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Advance praise

‘This is a game-changing, life-changing novel, the kind that comes along right when you need it, and compels you to listen to its terrifying poetry. Compulsively readable and yet also pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of language and narrative, this is a brilliant and disturbing book that will make you rethink everything you thought you understood about non-human animal sentience and agency. I don’t think any reader can ever forget a voice like Sue the dingo’s—wise and obscene in equal measure. A triumph.’—Ceridwen Dovey, author of In the Garden of the Fugitives

‘Deliriously strange, blackly hilarious, and completely exhilarating, The Animals in That Country is a wonderful debut from a genuinely original and exciting new voice.’—James Bradley, author of Clade

‘Engrossing, subversive, and surprisingly profound, The Animals in That Country does something only the best fiction can do: it has the power to skew the reader’s perspective on the world. This story will stay with me for a long time, and its protagonist, Jean Bennett, will be with me even longer.’—J P Pomare, author of Call Me Evie

‘Funny, original, and heartbreakingly timely. A love letter to family, communication, and “battlers” everywhere—both human and non-human.’—R W R McDonald, author of The Nancys

‘In this warm, wild and irreverent debut, Laura Jean McKay takes us into the minds of animals to reveal the complexity of their lives. The Animals in That Country avoids the trap of anthropomorphism, showing instead the absurd, intense and shifting bonds between humans and animals.’—Mireille Juchau, author of The World Without Us

‘A deeply thought imagining of communication between animals and humans, delving into animal ethics while never becoming didactic, with the hand of a funny and addictive protagonist. Poetic and profound, entirely original, and at times quite disturbing; I have been waiting to read a book like The Animals in That Country.’—Abi Andrews, author of The Word for Woman Is Wilderness

‘Assured, compelling, and utterly original, this book will change how you see the world. Laura Jean McKay’s powers are in full evidence here: her singular gift for empathy, enviable storytelling chops, and deftly elegant language will shift your frame of reference and leave you altered, in the best of ways. A unique and important work that explores the bond between humans and animals—and indeed throws the whole dividing line between us into doubt.’—Meg Mundell, author of The Trespassers


About the book

Out on the road, no one speaks, everything talks.

Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue. 

As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals—first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin.

Setting off on their trail, with Sue the dingo riding shotgun, they find themselves in a stark, strange world in which the animal apocalypse has only further isolated people from other species. Bold, exhilarating, and wholly original, The Animals in That Country asks what would happen, for better or worse, if we finally understood what animals were saying.


Read an extract

Read an extract of The Animals in That Country here


About the author 

Laura Jean McKay is the author of Holiday in Cambodia (Black Inc., 2013), shortlisted for three national book awards in Australia. Her work appears in Meanjin, Overland, Best Australian Stories, The Saturday Paper, and The North American Review. Laura has a PhD from the University of Melbourne focusing on literary animal studies, and she is currently the ‘animal expert’ presenter on ABC Listen’s Animal Sound Safari.


From the author

‘I can see the wild in her…’ Watch Laura Jean McKay read from the book.  


Reading copy giveaway

For your chance to receive one of 20 advance copies of The Animals in That Country email with ‘The Animals in That Country ARC’ in the subject line. The first 20 people to respond will win a copy.




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Kelsey Oldham

Digital editor
Brad Jefferies

Acting editor, Daily
Matthia Dempsey

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Anthea Yang

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