The Zoo

Christopher Wilson

Patrick deWitt meets Catch 22, when a guileless young boy gets mixed up in Stalin’s inner circle.

‘A wonderfully inventive and slyly constructed novel, horrifying, horribly funny, and disgracefully entertaining.’ John Banville

Date Published
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There are certain things that Yuri Zipit knows:

That being official food-taster for the leader of the Soviet Union requires him to drink too much vodka for a 12-year-old.
That you do not have to be an Elephantologist to see that the great leader is dying.
That Marshal Bruhah has been known to eat his own children, while Comrade Krushka is only fit to run a slaughterhouse, and that one of them has Yuri’s father somewhere here in the Dacha.
That it’s a crime to love your family more than you love Socialism, the Party or the Motherland.
That, because of his damaged mind, everyone thinks Yuri is a fool.

But Yuri isn’t. He sits quietly through another excessive state dinner and witnesses it all – betrayals, body doubles, buffoonery. He’s starting to get the hang of this politics thing, but there’s so much to learn. Who knew that a man could be in five places at once? That someone could break your nose as a sign of friendship? That people could be disinvented?

The Zoo is a cutting satire, told through the refreshing voice of one gutsy boy who will not give up on hope.

Critic Reviews

The Zoo is exquisite. A biting satire that broke my heart.

Nathan Filer
Critic Reviews

I absolutely loved it! So nimble and acute, by turns briskly hilarious and deeply humane… The Vonnegut comparisons are justified.

Stephen Kelman
Critic Reviews

Riveting… The energy and originality of Christopher Wilson’s imagination is at its most striking in this fascinating novel. It’s narrator and central character, is so engaging that it’s impossible to put the book down.

Diana Athill
Critic Reviews

Original and fresh, cynical and innocent, amusing and horrific, cruel and humane, plausible and unbelievable... brilliantly written and resolutely unsentimental. It’s funny and poignant and a wonderful book.

Nicholas Searle
Critic Reviews

Like Christopher, the narrator of Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Yuri is a savant, bewildered by the complexities of the adult world and simultaneously wise to them … What the fine balance between Yuri’s cleverness and foolishness does achieve is a convincing insight into the psychology of a dictator’s subjects.

Daily Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Christopher Wilson’s biting Soviet satire, narrated with perfect pitch by a mordantly funny 12-year-old.

The Bookseller

Christopher Wilson is the author of several novels including Gallimauf’s Gospel, Baa, Blueglass, Mischief, Fou, The Wurd, The Ballad of Lee Cotton and Nookie. His work has been translated into several languages, adapted for the stage and twice shortlisted for the Whitbread Fiction Prize. Wilson completed a published PhD on the psychology of humour at LSE, worked widely as a…

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