35.2 | Ben de Bruyn

Bad Vibrations: Tone and Translation in The Animals in that Country

This article focuses on Laura Jean McKay’s The Animals in That Country (2020), a prize-winning novel that responds to the interlocking crises of the Anthropoceneand the Phonocene by reworking the traditional animal fableand the motif of the speaking animal. Drawing on the work of Vinciane Despret and Rebecca Walkowitz, the analysis highlights three interconnected aspects of the novel’s complex sonic architecture, namely the fact that it incorporates the fragmentary utterances of traumatized animals, invites readers to participate in utopian acts of interspecies translation, and alerts us to the crucial role of tonal cues in uncertain acts of communication.