In this haunting, lyrical, luminous book, Colin Dayan meditates on her family history, her relationship with animals, and her upbringing in the South. Examining memories, family documents, and photographs, Animal Quintet takes a raw look at racial tensions and bourgeois respectability in a region struggling to change. Famed Southern war horses ridden by Civil War generals, doomed Spanish fighting bulls, the misunderstood possum hunted by generations of Southerners, and the chickens slaughtered by family servants—these animals frame and inform a haunting picture of a doomed childhood in a riven society.
In these stories, Dayan asks readers to envision another political life, a reorientation of our ways of seeing and thinking, to examine our ethical and conceptual assumptions from the perspective of other creatures, to imagine an alternative way of being in the world, of thinking and loving. Animal Quintet is a coming-of-age story that depends on an unexpected attentiveness, on another kind of intelligibility beyond the world of the human.