“Yoko Tawada’s unusual fable-like novel is narrated by three generations of (real-life) polar bears, ending with the celebrity polar bear cub Knut, famously photographed with Leonardo DiCaprio, and not long after, famously found dead in his zoo cage. Tawada writes on a different frequency, almost like a visionary (think Kafka crossed with Yoko Ono) about language, identity, and ownership of our stories. She makes us feel our humanity by seeing what strange animals we really are.” —Heidi Sopinka
The Evolution of Beauty
“Darwin’s buried feminist theory of evolution. Dinosaurs that look like David Bowie. A species of birds that discovered perspective thousands of years before the Renaissance. All this through the eyes of an unlikely revolutionary — birder Richard Prum. A revolution that has radical implications for art, science, sexuality, aesthetics, and beauty.” —Heidi Sopinka
“Be prepared to never look at a pit bull the same way again. Eileen Myles has written an indelible, elegiac, glittering, and at times hallucinatory memoir that adds a wry dimension to the often glib human-pet relationship trope. She writes about her beloved dog Rosie using poetry, prose, letters, and interviews, and includes Rosie herself narrating in her ‘British-like old upper class dyke’ voice from the afterlife. Led by her unrelenting curiosity, Myles creates a punk poem of devotion that shies from nothing.” —Heidi Sopinka
Call Me Zebra
“Darkly comic, shot through with beautiful obsessive strangeness, you will find it impossible to shake the voice of this book’s manifesto-composing protagonist, Zebra. An Iranian exile (anarchist and autodidact) who witnesses great tragedy at a young age, Zebra refuses the role of victim by intellectualizing her grief through literature and philosophical abstraction. This terrain would be hard-going if it weren’t for Van der Vliet Oloomi’s white-hot intellect and deeply weird, hilarious brain.” —Heidi Sopinka
Flying Books’ current guest chooser is the amazing Heidi Sopinka, author of the quietly epic and profound The Dictionary of Animal Languages. Speaking of animals and language, Heidi has chosen four books featuring, about, and in some cases even partly by animals.
Her own novel centres on Ivory Frame, an artist and scientist who records how animals communicate. Frame is near the end of her life, with still so much to do, but instead of taking stock of her past, it floods in all around her, changing everything she thought she knew.
When she isn’t writing fiction, Heidi is the co-conspirator, with Claudia Dey, of design house Horses Atelier. If that doesn’t make you feel inadequate, you should know that she can fly helicopters. Also she has won a National Magazine Award. The Dictionary of Animal Languages is her first novel.