November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

What could taxidermied animals and bitter partisan politics possibly have in common? It turns out there’s a range of wonderfully weird possibilities in Jessica Anthony’s clever novel Enter the Aardvark. In it, a young Republican congressman unexpectedly receives a giant taxidermied aardvark, which sets off a series of amusing events as the politician uncovers who sent the package and why. Anthony connects her protagonist, an often angry and brash J.Crew.-obsessed millennial, with the men who initially stuffed and hunted the aardvark in 19th-century England. In illustrating the parallels between the characters’ lives, particularly in the secrets the men can’t bear to speak, Anthony creates a stunning examination of the evolution of male power, rage and love.

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