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Animal Kingdom

January 2022

Issa Watanabe, from the book Migrantes, published 2019 by Libros del Zorro Rojo. Courtesy of the artist.

This month we’ve traveled back in time and through our archive to round up international stories featuring animals. In settings from rural Galicia to metropolitan Hong Kong and narratives that swing from the tragic to the absurd, writers from eight countries explore the complexities of human-animal relationships. In Baghdad, Hassan Blasim sees an incongruous pet deployed in a deadly prank. Ilana Zeffren’s cats provide a running commentary on events in their Tel Aviv home, while Cameroon’s Patrice Nganang channels a happily domesticated dog. Xi Xi’s bereaved Hong Kong cat owner mourns with a vengeance, and Estonia’s Eeva Park confronts a feral stray. In stories from three regions and languages of Spain, Álvaro Cunqueiro reins in a Galician Mr. Ed, Sergi Pàmies joins a retiring Catalan’s farewell to his favorite colleague, and Madrileño Juan José Millás observes a beach vacation gone south. Singapore’s Wong Koi Tet sets a superstitious man on the trail of an escaped panther. And a Himalayan folktale shows the value of harmonious human-animal coexistence and the irreversible cost of its disruption.

An International Menagerie: Animal Stories
By Susan Harris
Some of the animals here possess the power of speech, deploying it to often subversive ends.
End of the Line
By Sergi Pàmies
Much in the same way that for thirty years he’s been incapable of breaking the rules, today he just doesn’t see himself having the heart to comply with them.
Translated from Catalan by Lisa M. Dillman
The Green Zone Rabbit
By Hassan Blasim
Wasn’t it your bloody rabbit that laid the egg?
Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright
A Dog’s Life
By Eeva Park
He was old and filthy and probably hadn’t eaten for some time.
Translated from Estonian by Matthew Hyde
Black Panther
By Wong Koi Tet
One thought occupied his mind all this time: that he might not have a son to perform his last rites.
Translated from Chinese by Hong Xinyi, Lee Chee Keng & Tina Sim