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5.0 X 7.7 X 0.8 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author

Laura Jean McKay is the author of The Animals in That Country (Scribe, 2020) -- winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Victorian Prize for Literature, and the ABIA Small Publishers Adult Book of the Year, and co-winner of the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Laura is also the author of Holiday in Cambodia (Black Inc., 2013). She was awarded the NZSA Waitangi Day Literary Honours in 2022.


"Startling, beautiful, and dangerous. McKay is the brightest of talents. We're lucky to have her."
--Robbie Arnott, author of Limberlost

"Amidst a pile of shed skin and fur, McKay molds a kaleidoscopic and horrifyingly real portrait of life at the fringes. By turns gritty, surreal, and absurd, Gunflower isn't afraid to weigh flesh on the scales of our own judgments, a delicate balancing act between life and death, connection and disconnection. Perhaps part Kelly Link and Ottessa Moshfegh, McKay delivers an assured follow-up to The Animals in That Country in her own singular voice that zeroes in on our anxieties and existential crises with deft and often poetic flair."
--Sequoia Nagamatsu, bestselling author of How High We Go in the Dark

"Gunflower is like a swarm of small earthquakes: nothing is steady anymore, and the world feels bigger, scarier, almost transcendent in its strangeness."
--Miles Allinson, author of In Moonland

"[Laura Jean McKay] has another sense, an extra one that we mortals do not have. She sees and feels the world differently. So acutely, so astutely, so uncannily"
--Sian Prior, author of Shy

"McKay's deployment of language is as exciting and original as her manipulation of ideas. The stories in Gunflower are provocative, poetic, vibrantly alive to contemporary concerns."
--Nina Allen, The Guardian

"The genre-hopping short stories in Gunflower, written over the past two decades, offer invaluable insight into the obsessions that have compelled McKay to return to the page ... McKay circles around her thematic obsessions--familial fracture, social and economic liminality, negotiations with motherhood, human and nonhuman subjectivities--and approaches them from multiple angles."
--Jack Cameron Stanton, Sydney Morning Herald

"It's not often that a short story collection feels like more than the sum of its parts, but Gunflower is a work of rare depth and skill."
--Doug Johnstone, The Big Issue

"[M]any of the stories in Gunflower end just as they seem to be approaching the edge of a cliff, giving rise to an uncomfortable sense of urgency. McKay's ability to close the apparent distances between past and present, human and nonhuman, us and them, feels vital as we approach the precipice of the Anthropocene."
--Megan Cheong, Meanjin

"Gunflower is distinguished by its tonal and formal variety: its bracing sense of the weird jostling with heartfelt compassion; the audacity of brevity and the artful unfolding of detail; a keen ear for working-class vernacular and the more sophisticated language of the educated middle class ... Above all, McKay's stories challenge us to make our own meanings ... [Gunflower] is one of the most inventive short story collections I have read this year. It will delight the many admirers of The Animals in that Country and readers new to McKay's thought-provoking fiction."
--Susan Midalia, Australian Book Review

"The short stories in Laura Jean McKay's Gunflower are weird and wonderful, just as you'd expect from the author of The Animals in That Country. Some of the concerns of the earlier book are in its follow-up, with a similar dreamlike, even fabulist take on a world that's familiar but with improbable and fantastical twists. Funny, creepy and addictive."
--Michael Williams, Qantas Travel Insider

"[A] cohesive collection of dizzying, formally inventive, marvellously unique stories ... Laura Jean McKay's latest work is a poetic and mesmerizing collection for the holidays."
--Michaela McGuire, Melbourne Writers Festival

"The short stories in Laura Jean McKay's Gunflower are weird and wonderful, just as you'd expect from the author of The Animals in That Country. Some of the concerns of the earlier book are in its follow-up, with a similar dreamlike, even fabulist take on a world that's familiar but with improbable and fantastical twists. Funny, creepy and addictive."
--Zee Feed

Praise for The Animals in That Country:

"Part pandemic novel and part beast fable, McKay's novel, which takes its title from a Margaret Atwood poem, imagines a disease that causes humans to understand animal language, down to the lowliest insect. Acerbic wildlife guide Jean and a dingo named Sue set off through the Australian Outback in pursuit of the former's son, who has absconded south after losing his mind, like so many others, due to the new voices that now seemingly occupy every space."
--Publishers Weekly, "Going Viral: New Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020"

"As we grapple with a worldwide pandemic, Australian author McKay's novel is incredibly timely and feels all the more real for it ... filled with humor, optimism, and grace: a wild ride worth taking. An eye-opening glimpse into a world that's turned upside down and eventually becomes its own version of whole."
--Carol Gladstein, Booklist

"A wildly inventive dystopian adventure ... Both a hell of a ride and a revealing thought experiment about our place in the natural world."
--Dan Kois, Slate

"McKay does not offer us anthropomorphized cartoons, but a vocabulary formed by scent and breath ... As the novel progresses, and more animals are introduced, it becomes impossible not to believe in McKay's creative choices. In the arrangement and the rhythms and the personalities of each animal she translates, it is obvious McKay withheld nothing ... McKay has not written a white lie about how lovely it would be to speak with a dog. Instead, she has asked that necessary, and uncomfortable question: Do we really want to know what the rest of the planet thinks of us?"
--Necessary Fiction

"Disturbingly timely, The Animals In That Country chronicles the journey of one no-bullshit woman and her half-wild dingo as they race against a deadly pandemic. Jean is brilliantly crafted--unapologetically rough and yet filled with hidden vulnerability. McKay's tale pulled me in with its entertaining nature then dragged me under with its profound nuance."
--Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore

"This is a game-changing, life-changing novel, the kind that comes along right when you need it, and compels you to listen to its terrifying poetry. Compulsively readable and yet also pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of language and narrative, this is a brilliant and disturbing book that will make you rethink everything you thought you understood about non-human animal sentience and agency. I don't think any reader can ever forget a voice like Sue the dingo's -- wise and obscene in equal measure. A triumph."
--Ceridwen Dovey, author of Only the Animals

"The genius stroke of The Animals in That Country is the preternatural 'body talk' of its animals ... an affecting book, one that gets remarkably close to the unknowable wildness of animal sentience."
--Jack Callil, The Age

"A fierce debut novel ... Her writing about people is filthy, fresh, and funny; this is prose on high alert, hackles up and teeth bared in every sentence. The novel becomes both a stirring attempt to inhabit other consciousnesses and a wry demonstration of the limits of our own language and empathy."
--Justine Jordan, The Guardian

"[The Animals in That Country] is disturbing and darkly comic, disrupting anthropocentric assumptions, revealing how animals might see our often violent intrusion into their lives ... McKay's innovation lies in the startlingly newness of the plot and the innovations in form in conveying animal voices as agentic and different ... The Animals in That Country marks a striking new moment in animal representation in Australian fiction."
--ALS Gold Medal Judges' Citation