With a devotion to language, to rhythm, to imagery (beautifully translated by Pablo Strauss) Vadnais injects a mythical, even scriptural quality to the stark realities of global warming ... As much as I love the anger and passion of a book like James Bradley’s Ghost Species or the harrowing climate catastrophes collected in McSweeney’s 2040 A.D., it pleases me no end that there is space in this sub-genre for books as lyrical and strange as Fauna.
Fauna paints a lush and dreamy landscape, but with a touch of the grotesque. Scientific terms and Latin names are threaded into sumptuous descriptions. One of Vadnais’s recurring characters, Laura, is a biologist who sees living things in their most visceral form, and her vignettes gave me horror-story shivers ... As a translation, Fauna reads easily and captures the lyrical, organic flow of the French. While I tend to prefer concision and simplicity in English writing, Strauss won me over with gorgeous lines ... Despite the fantastic events that occur, the stories in Fauna feel less like fiction and more like twisted reflections of our world. Polluted waters, ravaging floods, and a deadly contagion are all terrible realities that people across the globe are facing today. But even with the stories’ grim premise, they never turn cynical. Instead of portending doom, Vadnais’s words sound like a rallying cry ... I hope the world will listen.
The ten stories vary in tone, though more often than not they have a dreamlike, sometimes nightmarish, aspect ... With a devotion to language, to rhythm, to imagery (beautifully translated by Pablo Strauss) Vadnais injects a mythical, even scriptural quality to the stark realities of global warming ... it pleases me no end that there is space in this sub-genre for books as lyrical and strange as Fauna.
In her startling debut Fauna, a climate-fiction novella exquisitely translated from the French by Pablo Strauss, Vadnais brings climate change home to bourgeois suburban society and to the deepest interiors of the human body ... The ferocity of Fauna’s environment alone does important political work in our age of climate denialism ... Vadnais inspires a fear of nature that replaces our modern ecological arrogance with respect and humility. The matter-of-fact tone amplifies this effect by preventing the reader from construing the surreal events as unreal. By narrating natural destruction in a neutral tone, Fauna models one way that climate-fiction can serve environmentalism ... A purely dystopian reading ignores Vadnais’s palpable delight in the end of this world ... aesthetic admiration of nature, retributive rage at humanity, and collective suicidality intermingle and welcome the end of our world. While politically productive, the book’s portrait of humanity is often a caricature. The narrative is largely unable to incorporate warmth and softness into its characters, who are rarely sympathetic and always two-dimensional ... Whether or not readers share this vision of humanity, they can savor the book’s vivid imagination and elegant prose. Strauss’s phenomenal English translation makes Fauna one of the most beautifully written books in contemporary anglophone climate-fiction.
... dreamily surreal ... Quebecois author Christiane Vadnais takes the middle road in Fauna, delicately tracing the decline of humanity’s dominion over nature ... While the stories in the first half of the book are uncertain and seem to have little relation to one another, those in the latter half are much more confident, tangible, and even, at times, inspired. Vadnais’s portrait of a world reshaping people in its own image may not be particularly unique, but it has an ethereal quality all its own.
... a lush, haunting book of climate fiction ... Vadnais’s prose is unsettling, imbued with a weighty, wet sensuality and an encroachment of life that is both frightening and strangely seductive in a Kafka-esque world of dread and bodily transformation. Survival and contagion swirl around each other in deadly battle as Vadnais’s characters rebel, fight, or give into the bitter, primitive hunger that threatens to swallow their world whole.
Vadnais’s exciting debut immerses the reader into the dreamy and menacing near-future world of Shivering Heights, a flooded wilderness in the twilight of the human race ... Vadnais offers the reader dazzling glimpses of newly evolved, semihuman and hybrid species ... The sumptuous imagery and limpid atmosphere forms a dizzying picture of a world after human existence. This dark, sensual novel invites the reader to imagine nature thriving in the toxic aftermath of human domination, and makes for an essential addition to the recent crop of eco-fiction.