Enter the Aardvark (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Young, handsome, rich and riding high in polling, Congressman Alexander Paine (R) has everything going for him when a stuffed aardvark shows up on his doorstep. Not just any aardvark, but one taxidermied by highly respected Titus Downing in the late 19th century. The story alternates between these two men's lives and the secret they share giving readers a very entertaining ride.

— Karen

April 2020 Indie Next List

“I’ve never read a novel quite like this one. The story connects two storylines, one revolving around the stuffing of an aardvark and the other around a repressed, Reagan-obsessed, Republican millennial congressman. What I loved most about this novel is that it’s kind of ridiculous (in a great way!) but it is also very poignant and leaves the reader changed by the end. Bravo, Jessica Anthony!”
— John McManus, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA


A young congressman discovers a mysterious stuffed aardvark on his doorstep and sets out on a journey to find out what it means in this "weird, wonderful" novel about the secrets we keep from ourselves and their history-shaping consequences (Esquire).

It's early one morning on a hot day in August, and millennial congressman Alexander Paine Wilson (R), planning his first reelection campaign and in deep denial about his sexuality, receives a mysterious, over-sized FedEx delivery on his front stoop. Inside is a gigantic taxidermied aardvark.

This outrageous, edge-of-your-seat novel hurtles between contemporary Washington, D.C., where Wilson tries to get rid of the unsightly beast before it destroys his career, and Victorian England--where we meet Titus Downing, the taxidermist who stuffed the aardvark, and Richard Ostlet, the naturalist who hunted her. Our present world, we begin to see, has been shaped in profound and disturbing ways by the secret that binds these men.

At once a ghost story, a love story, and a stunningly prescient political satire, Enter the Aardvark confronts the consequences of repressed male love meeting oppressive male power, and is a searing condemnation of our current American blindness. It is also that rarest of creatures: a work of art so utterly original and masterfully built that it seems to have spring fully formed from its visionary maker's head.

About the Author

Jessica Anthony has been a butcher in Alaska, an unlicensed masseuse in Poland, and a secretary in San Francisco. In 2017, while writing Enter the Aardvark, Anthony was working as "Bridge Guard," guarding the Maria Valeria Bridge between Sturovo, Slovakia and Esztergom, Hungary. Normally, she lives in Maine and teaches at Bates College.

Praise For…

"Inventive and darkly funny...as Anthony
connects characters from today with those from 19th-century England, she offers
an original and unsettling lens through which to view male power as it has
evolved over time."—TIME

"Like A. S. Byatt with a demented sense of humor...profound
and slapsticky, hilarious and depressing at once, Enter the Aardvark is brutally suited to our moment of absurd
political theater...Anthony's approach to Rep. Wilson falls somewhere between
Nabokov's Pnin and Veep...With her huge taxidermy needle,
Anthony stitches us into the breast of our nemesis. She wants to see what
insights we gain from putting on their skin...It's a thrilling ride...I'd buy
another ticket."—LOS ANGELES TIMES

"Weird, wonderful, and very much of the moment, Enter the Aardvark is a landmark political novel of the Trump era...With
heart and humor, Anthony expertly skewers our current political climate."—ESQUIRE

you've been wondering, as I have, where the spirit of Nathanael West might be
in these berserk and awful times, enter Jessica Anthony. With her highly
inventive, ever attentive, and morally serious (as all great comedy must be) Enter
the Aardvark
, she estranges all over again our deplorable political moment,
and thereby helps make it bearable."—JOSHUA FERRIS, author of The Dinner Party and Then We Came to the End

the Aardvark
] holds up a
funhouse mirror to our own political media in the age of spin...reminiscent of
Joyce's Dubliners and the later works of T. S. Eliot, the prose quickly
transitions into something more modern, but equally ambitious...The book
raises some standard commentary about our relationship to politics and the
media...but Anthony's reflection of ourselves goes deeper. This is a world that
serves, in some ways, as a salve to readers disgruntled by the last four

the Aardvark
is one wild ride: a condemnation, a haunting, a song of love,
a madcap political thriller-and it is absolutely unputdownable. I have long
been a massive fan of Jessica Anthony's writing and this novel cements her as
one of our most thrilling and singular innovators on the page. Welcome,
readers, to her world."—LAURA VAN DEN BERG, author of The Third Hotel

"It's a long time since I have enjoyed a novel so
much. Fresh, witty and smart, it also has a heart. What more could
you want? And who would have thought that you could become emotionally attached
to a stuffed aardvark?"—KATE ATKINSON, author of Big Sky and Life After Life

"This book is batshit insane and I love it. What do
a closeted gay Republican congressman who's obsessed with Ronald Reagan have in
common with a taxidermist in 19th-century England? Answer: an aardvark. And
also much more, but I'll let you discover the rest for yourself."— LIT-HUB

"An ingenious political
satire...The perfect tonic for testing times...Anthony's voice is all her
own: deliciously astute, fresh and terminally funny."—THE GUARDIAN

blisteringly innovative and outrageous novel...If you're searching for a sharp,
looking-glass view into the far end of contemporary politics, look no further.
Jessica Anthony's novel has the pacing of a thriller with satirical verve of
Nathanael West. Beyond a fabulist send-up of our current political chaos, it's
an examination of the fall out of masculinity's rigid constraints, played out
through sexual repression and relentless power dynamics."—THE OBSERVER

Anthony's Enter the Aardvark is a
truly fresh piece of art. It is rare that a novel addresses the current
political moment. With humor, intelligence and a keen eye for detail
Anthony paints a frightening picture of this America. And above all else,
this novel never lowers itself to preaching to the choir. This is a great
satire."—PERCIVAL EVERETT, author of So Much Blue and Erasure

"I've been waiting a long time for a book like Jessica
Anthony's Enter the Aardvark, a book
that not only manages to bridge supposedly unbridgeable divides in
politics, in time, in geography, in love and sex, but also manages to do
so by way of a time-traveling taxidermied aardvark. If that sounds
unlikely, well, yes, exactly, that's why I've been waiting for so long for it-this
unlikely, hilarious, moving, ingenious book. Enter the Aardvark is an absolute original, and so is Jessica
Anthony."—BROCK CLARKE, author of Who are You, Calvin Bledsoe? and An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

"Jessica Anthony is a writer possessed of mind-bending talents."—HEIDI JULAVITS, author of The Folded Clock

"The feat of a virtuoso stylist who makes the wildly impossible
seem everyday. Anthony stabs with tenderness, drags us through the
purifying muck of love, and writes a refrain that does not repeat. A novel
of riotous longing echoing across our continents and eras."—SALVADOR PLASCENCIA, author of The People of Paper

we're all high-key stressed about the upcoming election, so if you need to
laugh-cry at a political satire populated with queer characters and homophobic
ones, taxidermy and parallel timelines, plot twists and toxic masculinity, well
then, here you are...It's a wild ride and might just be the perfect antidote to
the wild ride we're in in real life."—ELECTRIC LITERATURE

are far from a laughing matter these days, but Jessica Anthony's irreverent and
unabashedly weird novel pokes fun at the toxic hypocrisy of current-day
Washington...Enter the Aardvark
explores closeted gay love, human vindictiveness, and the natural history of an
odd African mammal. It's a fast, entertaining read that definitely fits the
bill for anyone looking for something different."—APPLE BOOKS (Best Books of March)

"Though Enter the Aardvark is
certainly satire, Anthony's depiction of Wilson's repressed sexuality cuts
beneath the surface. Her dissection of Wilson's political beliefs, particularly
his anti-abortion stance, isn't just sharp commentary on
polarization, identity and power in the U.S. It's also a poignant examination
of what happens when we deny ourselves the ability to love and be loved."—TIME Magazine

"Anthony has woven the historic and the contemporary into this brilliant
and fast-paced novel. Bursts of hilarity and heartbreak make it a delight to
read. A perfect escape for this political season."—MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

"Anthony mixes wildly
different ingredients into her ingenious mental mixmaster in this distinctive,
quirky satire of a novel."—NATIONAL BOOK REVIEW

"Enter the Aardvark sizzles with uproarious fun, from
its snout to the sting in its tale."—THE INDEPENDENT

"[Anthony's] story reels
between epochs of time and knots of characters but, in her case, with the
unsparing, high-energy atom-smasher of whip-smart, informed, biting cynicism.
Her prose is quick, almost breathless, voracious and deftly targeted."—BAY AREA REPORTER

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316536158
ISBN-10: 0316536156
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: March 24th, 2020
Pages: 192