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Fauna Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 27, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews



“Rich and strange and deeply satisfying. Whether she’s adopting the voice of a homeless teen, a yuppy vet, or a famished coyote, York writes with a spare, unsentimental fluency that connects strangers, enemies, species. Fauna reminds us of the life that swoops and slithers and lopes and pounces all around us, even in the most urban of worlds; a wild life we share and ignore at our peril.” —Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean
Fauna is the sort of rare novel that can change the way you see your world. Its cast of misfits and dreamers is united by their visceral connection to the forgotten animals surviving in the green patches of our big cities. This book is beautiful, unusual and memorable. And Alissa York is a daring and original talent.” —Jim Lynch, author of Border Songs

“Layered with astonishing detail, with every location vividly evoked and every action a visceral experience.”
The Globe and Mail
“One of the novel’s strengths is the way York turns her gaze from the human world to the world of Toronto’s skunks, coyotes, raccoons and squirrels. . . . Even as she brings animals to life with her writing, she is clear about the terrible toll taken by everything from cars, to skyscraper windows, to live electrical wires.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“Lyrical. . . . Fauna is well crafted, morally serious and even noble in its sensitivity.”
Toronto Star
“An extraordinary novel. . . . daring and exceptional.”
Quill & Quire (starred review)
“A tender and beautiful novel.”
NOW (Toronto)

About the Author

Alissa York’s fiction has won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award, and has been published in Canada, the U.S., France, Holland and Italy. Her most recent novel, Effigy, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. York has lived all over Canada and now makes her home in Toronto with her husband, artist Clive Holden.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; First Edition edition (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307357899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307357892
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,648,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a simple pleasure for anyone interested in the wildlife featured in the book. This is not a book with talking animals although the human characters in the book spent lots of time reading books such as Watership Down and The Jungle Book, and one of the characters is named after an otter.

This is a book about the real wildlife of a city and people for whom they are important. Some of the people try to help by rescuing injured birds, rehabbing a red-tailed hawk and orphan raccoons (I've done the latter myself so I especially enjoyed the pages mentioning their noise and bottle-feeding them). One of the characters cares about a mouse living in her apartment, and ironically just after I started this review, I had to stop writing to look for one which ran across my dorm room.

On the other side is a character who wants to eliminate coyotes, and things can get a bit gruesome in his portion of the story.

The human aspect of the story involves the small group of animal lovers gradually getting to know each other and bonding as a small alternative family/community. This is not timeless literature, but a fine story of compassion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This was the 2013 pick for One Book Nova Scotia. It’s set in the Don Valley in Toronto, Ontario. The River Don runs through the heart of Canada’s biggest city, largely unnoticed by most residents, but the valley teems with wildlife activity.

Alissa Yorke imagines an auto wreckers in this ravine, with a secret sanctuary for the injured fauna of the title. All of the characters who cross paths here are recovering from or distancing themselves from a loss. Most interesting is Edal, a federal wildlife officer on stress leave, torn between reporting the illegal operation and watching the wildlife she is sworn to protect heal. There’s also a coyote-shooting fringe element, and of course, the wildlife itself.

Read this if: you are interested in the role that animals and humans play in the healing of the other; or you live in or near Toronto (or another large urban centre) and want a glimpse of the hidden world amid the concrete that is the Don Valley. 4 stars
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Format: Paperback
So with 'Fauna', I've completed reading Ms York's oeuvre. And as my review's title announces, I'm scratching my head: I'm amazed that she's managed to write three entirely different novels. Granted, there are some similarities between this one and 'Mercy', but her début had the trappings of 'CanLit', whereas this one is far more a 'regular' piece of fiction. Normally, when I've read an author's work (or even a singer's catalogue), there is a consistent style at play. In this instance, if you'd told me that the three books were written by three different authors, I'd have shrugged and said "OK."

The novel itself is solid. And by this, I mean it hangs together nicely. (Except the ending.) There are multiple storylines, many intersections. I was reminded of Robert Altman's films, or Paul Haggis's or 'Magnolia' by Paul Thomas Anderson. But the delivery was- Well, that of a contemporary fiction novel. There is no pretension, no showing off, just the individual tales.

Not everything works. The exploration of character isn't handled as well as I think it should have been. And perhaps it could have benefited from an injection here and there of CanLit blood. However...

...'Fauna' is a love story, a paean to wildlife. That 'Ring of Bright Water' and 'The Jungle Book' are regularly referenced...indeed, integral parts of the story...is no surprise. And for this reason alone, I'm willing to cut Ms York some slack. As well as looking forward to her next offering.
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