Jamrach's Menagerie

By Carol Birch
(Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 9780385534406, 295pp.)

Publication Date: June 14, 2011

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Description


SHORTLISTED for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

A thrilling and powerful novel about a young boy lured to sea by the promise of adventure and reward, with echoes of Great Expectations, Moby-Dick, and The Voyage of the Narwhal.

Jamrach’s Menagerie tells the story of a nineteenth-century street urchin named Jaffy Brown. Following an incident with an escaped tiger, Jaffy goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals, alongside Tim, a good but sometimes spitefully competitive boy. Thus begins a long, close friendship fraught with ambiguity and rivalry.

Mr. Jamrach recruits the two boys to capture a fabled dragon during the course of a three-year whaling expedi­tion. Onboard, Jaffy and Tim enjoy the rough brotherhood of sailors and the brutal art of whale hunting. They even succeed in catching the reptilian beast.

But when the ship’s whaling venture falls short of expecta­tions, the crew begins to regard the dragon—seething with feral power in its cage—as bad luck, a feeling that is cruelly reinforced when a violent storm sinks the ship.

Drifting across an increasingly hallucinatory ocean, the sur­vivors, including Jaffy and Tim, are forced to confront their own place in the animal kingdom. Masterfully told, wildly atmospheric, and thundering with tension, Jamrach’s Mena­gerie is a truly haunting novel about friendship, sacrifice, and survival.




About the Author
CAROL BIRCH is the author of ten novels. Jamrach's Menagerie was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, longlisted for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the Galaxy National Book Awards. Birch won the David Higham Prize for Fiction for Life in the Palace and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for The Fog Line. She was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 for Turn Again Home. She has written for The Independent, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The Observer, the New Statesman, Talk of the Town and The Independent on Sunday, among other periodicals. She lives in Lancashire, England, with her husband and sons.
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