Released September 10th 2021
Longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize 2022
As seen in the Indiependent: "It is these bizarre juxtapositions that throw our relationship with the creatures of the earth into a sharp focus – is it crazier to be haunted by a fox than it is to hunt one for sport?...It is easy to imagine the relative insanity of this collection of stories as parts of a greater whole, and this is Fauna’s true excellence." - Eloise Cowen
Fauna follows the lead of the bacon-skinned Pig with a menagerie of twisted tales about the lives and times of our fellow-feeling creatures. There are guinea pigs in the underworld, elephants in a virtual world, vengeful birds from a far-off world, and so much more beastliness. There will be nowhere for the humans to hide.In Hartley’s dystopian short stories, animals and humanity go head-to-head. Only one party displays humanity… and it is not the humans. From guinea pigs navigating the underworld, birds seeking a token human for their kingdom, to a man haunted by a shapeshifting fox, this is a darkly humorous collection of rich language, blurring the lines between nature, nurture and cruelty.
“Brilliant imagination and sharp storytelling aside, Dr. David Hartley shows us a delightfully fresh way of looking at who should, really, be our closest friends.”
- Nik Perring (Author of Not So Perfect, Freaks!)
“Fiercely original, these are stories that are at times disturbing, absurd, and darkly comedic, and which refuse to conform to the constraints of time and space. A startling collection, that begs to be read aloud. Hartley is a brilliant storyteller, with the kind of
imagination that leaves you feeling a bit fearful for your own safety.”
- Lucie McKnight Hardy (Author of Water Shall Refuse Them)
"I haven’t read anything quite like these brilliant, dark and often fairy-tailish short stories. The tension is found here on the edges and boundaries: human/animal, natural/man-made, happiness/horror. With humour and an incredible versatility in voice and style - not to mention technology-hacking rabbits and horses who time travel - Hartley asks us to look hard at our own world and never, ever, underestimate the animals. "
- Tania Hershman, author of Some Of Us Glow More Than Others and My Mother Was An Upright Piano
A Panda Appeared in Our Street
A panda appeared in our street, skewered to the railing outside my house. Let me paint the picture: there’s the road outside my house, then there’s this long strip of grass, then there’s the houses opposite. And the grass has got these railings all the way around it, for kids to kick their footballs off and stuff, and this panda was just there that morning, stuck on a row of the spikes, directly opposite my house.
So, I went up to it and I was like that to the kids who were playing out, I was like; who’s is this panda, lads? And they were like; dunno, dunno mate and they didn’t seem to care. So, I knocked on to my neighbour, Gail, and she comes out and I’m like; Gail. Check this out. A panda. And she’s like; hmm, oh yeah aye. So how are you keeping Jon, are you well?
But I’m like; Gail, it’s a panda! What should we do? And she’s like; leave it, it’s just some kid’s toy.
And that’s when I realised. The people of the street; they weren’t seeing the same thing I was. They were seeing a stuffed toy, like a teddy bear type thing, all synthetic fur and glass-bead eyes. But I was seeing something else. I was seeing a real-life panda skewered on a row of the railing spikes. And the poor bugger was still alive.
There was blood on the floor and the panda was squirming and crying out a bit. I didn’t know what to do. I thought about trying to lift it off, but you shouldn’t do that in case you hit an artery. Or it might get angry and start attacking me, or it might run off and hurt some kid. So, I thought; ring the RSPCA, Jon, but if I’m the only one who can see it’s a real panda, they might end up locking me away instead. So, I just left it. I guess I thought someone else would figure it out, or it would free itself or something.
But everyone just ignored it and it stayed there for days. And I was feeling so bad for it. One night, I snuck out and fed it. Just fruit and cabbage and water and stuff but it was hungry so it ate everything and drank loads of the water. And I watched it eat and I just knew it were real, you know? I could see it mashing up the apple in its mouth, bits of pulp falling on the ground mixing with the blood. Totally real.
top of page
bottom of page