The big short

Last year’s Booker win­ner Ge­orge Saun­ders’ new book is mini but mighty

Esquire (UK) - - Culture -

Fox 8: a Story by US au­thor Ge­orge Saun­ders, is so teeny that even call­ing it a novella would be a stretch. It takes half an hour to read and only makes it to near­ish 50 pages thanks to very gen­er­ous page bor­ders and di­vert­ing line­draw­ing il­lus­tra­tions by Chelsea Car­di­nal. Still, when it comes to de­liv­er­ing pathos, hu­mour and char­ac­ter with trip-along ef­fi­ciency, un­der­es­ti­mate Saun­ders at your peril. The fox of the ti­tle is an ac­tual fox, who has learned to speak “yu­man” by sit­ting out­side a bed­room win­dow eaves­drop­ping on a mother read­ing to her kids, and is now writ­ing a let­ter to mankind to ex­plain some re­cent heavy ex­pe­ri­ences — the dis­ap­pear­ance of the “wuds”, the ar­rival of a “mawl” — and ask them, “What’s up?” The genre here is loosely a fa­ble — “the fox who cried wolf” es­sen­tially, as his warn­ings about the ar­rival of mankind go un­heeded — though the moral of the story is pur­pose­fully un­re­solved. Fox 8’s grasp of English is, as he might say, “crewd”, but his ear pricks up for con­tem­po­rary di­a­logue, such as this over­heard ex­change be­tween hu­mans: “One woslike: OK, I will meet you at the Fud Cort when you are done with your lip waks. And the other woslike: if you are late I will to­tal lee kill you, Meggen.” Not many writ­ers could write con­vinc­ing hu­man di­a­logue through the fil­ter of a semi-lit­er­ate vulpine, but Saun­ders is a masta at werk.

Fox 8: a Story is out 15 Novem­ber (Blooms­bury)

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