Winner of the seventh Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction
A wild and mysterious novel of multiple characters and episodes
structured around the life and career of a fictional actress and
animal rights activist, "Animal Sanctuary "is the winner of the
seventh Starcherone Fiction Prize. The manuscript was selected by
novelist and short story writer Stacey Levine.
"Animal Sanctuary" is a challenging, readable, powerful, and
mysterious novel. The story--not a single plot, but multiple,
peripherally connected episodes and discourses--concerns an
American actress, Kitty Dawson, who stars in two movies by a famous
(and famously obscure) British director, Albert Wickwood, both
having animal-disaster themes. Kitty then goes on to make a great
many other pictures with animal themes, and to found in the 1970s a
sanctuary for big cats that rich people decide first to have as
pets, then abandon. Later, Kitty's only son, Rory, raised in the
animal sanctuary and as a young teen the lover of a renowned
Austrian big cat trainer, becomes an installation and performance
artist whose work incorporates animals and animal themes, as well
as attempts to critique and get outside of institutions.
Other plotlines concern a would-be revolutionary who also serves as
Kitty's body double in a film in Africa, the career of a
cinematographer whose specialization is "shooting" animals, and
reflections on understanding the ethics of human-animal
relationships. The book as a whole becomes a series of meditations
on making one's own meanings from within those structures others
place us in--the effort of striving for freedom, the enclosures
that keep us from attaining it, and yet the beauty and necessity of
such efforts. Throughout, Falkner's prose is smart, versatile, and
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