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Praise for The Last Animal






“I have known for a while that Abby Geni is a brilliant writer, and I'm happy that at last the world will find out. These are sharp, incisive, thoughtful, and utterly original stories, and I recommend this book with all my heart!”
       —Dan Chaon, National Book Award Finalist, Stay Awake and Await Your Reply


“Abby Geni’s worlds exist at the boundary between desolation and abundance, civilization and nature, love and loneliness. It is as if everything and everyone in these beautiful stories is at least half wild.”

       —Ramona Ausubel, A Guide to Being Born


“Abby Geni is a sharpshooter, a tamer of wild animals, a clear-eyed wonder. The Last Animal is a phenomenally ambitious debut collection and announces Geni's many talents to the world with the volume of a herd of stampeding elephants. I loved this book, and you will, too.”

       —Emma Straub, Other People We Married


“Combining the cool precision of a naturalist with the heart of a born storyteller, Abby Geni catalogues an astounding array of characters whose lives have been undone by the mysterious departures and disappearances of loved ones. Instead of solving these mysteries, she plunges us deeper into them, and the results, like so many of the creatures in this book, are strange, haunting, and beautiful.”

       —Jim Gavin, Middle Men  


The Last Animal is a work of rare insight and beauty. Abby Geni's vision is expansive and haunting and wholly new, and she illuminates her characters' loneliness and longing in a way that will break your heart. This book is about love and animals and loss and the whole world; you must read it.”  

       —Karen E. Bender, A Town of Empty Rooms


“Human predicaments are complemented by the wild natural world in this excellent debut story collection from Chicago-based author Geni. The characters and events here are unusual and far-reaching, but Geni's careful craftsmanship renders them immediate and real. Each story is threaded with page-turning, deeply felt tension, yet each has also been planted with a seed of magic in varying stages of growth.. An entrancing collection, recommended even for those who generally shy away from short story.”

        —Kirkus Reviews (Starred)


“The short stories in Geni's debut collection beautifully reveal how exposure to nature helps people in emotional pain to recover. In each well-researched piece, Geni vividly depicts the setting, as well as the animals or plants that play important roles…Al1 ten stories here are wonderfully written, with precise language and a true compassion for the hardships of the characters. Highly recommended.”

        —Library Journal (Starred)


“Geni’s first book puts us on notice. Here is a fiction writer who perceives the many forms of consciousness at work on the planet. In shrewd, sure stories, Geni registers the life force of trees, deciphers the confusions of human emotions, and considers the mystery of our interactions with other species… Endangerment, disappearance, isolation, love adrift, the attempt to hold on to and define life—Geni illuminates each condition and effort with keen realism and empathetic imagination to wondrously disquieting effect.” 

          — Booklist


“When people let you down, the natural world might just be the place to find solace, or so I surmised from this fascinating new collection of short stories. Whether it be Alzheimer’s, depression, affairs, or reasons yet to be determined, the family members of Abby Geni's characters keep disappearing. Even the surrogates, like one beloved camp counselor, can't be depended on. But fortunately there are substitute connections, whether it's the teen student of Dharma at the Gate who has her dog, or the young aquarium worker of Captivity who is quite aware of the intelligence of the octopus. One museum worker turns to specimens to process his grief at losing his mother, while another man turns to his clients' plant woes after his wife's miscarriage. Even in the stories I wasn't as drawn to, Geni's work is filled with unique images and situations. In my favorite stories, her characters and imagery are heart-stopping.”

       —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


“Whether it be an ostrich or an octopus, a manatee in the ocean, a butterfly collection in a museum, or a flight to freedom, the pages of these lively stories are populated by denizens of the natural world—and by those who relate to that world, and those who cannot. Reasons for leaving are clarified, intellectualized rationales are simplified, a mysterious death at a summer camp is mythologized.  Intriguing, quirky characters, all at crossroads of one kind or another, are surprised by events or sometimes by unwanted knowledge.  An impressive debut by a writer with an interesting sensibility, an arresting voice, and a clear and compassionate understanding of the vagaries of humanity.”

       —Betsy Burton, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT


The Last Animal is a collection of entirely original stories that are a true pleasure to read. Geni has a genuine gift for intertwining the lives of people and animals. I believe that this collection will appeal to all types of readers and will be wildly popular.”

       —Sherri Gallentine, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

Buy The Last Animal

  • Friends of American Writers Literary Award

  • Finalist, the Orion Book Award

  • November 2013 Indie Next List

  • Indies Introduce Debut Writers Selection

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