Anonymous people in anonymous towns; mothers screaming inside their houses, unapologetic doctors, mournful dogs, hungry girls, grandmothers on the couch tethered in a blue spell, steaks in soft sacks of blue blood, rare breeds of show cats in big black sedans, baby rabbits beneath heavy boots; and lonesome men crouched among the thorny shrubs and the rough, wild grasses. This is the singular vision of Kathryn Scanlan. With the economy of Lydia Davis and Grace Paley, and the unsettling verve of Mary Gaitskill and Claire-Louise Bennett, The Dominant Animal is a powerful and much-anticipated first collection. ‘No mercy’, says one of Scanlan’s characters, and that is how it feels to encounter these stories. Morbid humour, tender horror, no comfort here, only a startling, uncompromising voice that is here to stay.
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