The Animals In That Country

Author(s): Laura Jean McKay

Australian Fiction

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.

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.  

Staff Review - Abigail

Animals in That Country is a book rigorously playful in thinking through some of the most complex questions we can ask about our relationship to the animals we live with. The resultant prose is simultaneously fast and slow, funny and tense, warm and ruthless. The poetic ambiguity that makes this novel so distinctive, disrupts and intensifies the high-pace narrative. 

To enjoy this book is to sit with the discomfort of not-quite-understanding and to open yourself to a kind of pleasure in language that makes you vulnerable. In other words, this is a book that reminds us what reading can be. At one point, McKay's cranky bt lovable protagonist, Jean, witnesses some wild mice conversing in a bin: 

Only me and you and all 

of us with music on 


tracks, the 

tracks, the tracks

Jean says 'seeing them talk makes me feel like a nice alien has landed on my heart'. This is something like the experience of reading this book, except the alien is very heavy and sometimes hurts, and when it leaves, your heart is a bit dented and squashed. 

Product Information


   Winner Vic Premier's Award 2021

This book is both an utter surprise and a rude shock, given our present COVID-19 climate. While the power to "talk with the animals" proves to be a poisoned chalice for many, the author's vision of a viral outbreak of staggering transmissibility and the speed of social collapse is near-prescient.

-- Adam

General Fields

  • : 9781925849530
  • : Scribe Publications
  • : Scribe Publications
  • : December 2019
  • : ---length:- '23.4'width:- '15.3'units:- Centimeters
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Laura Jean McKay
  • : Paperback
  • : 2020
  • : English
  • : 288