THE COUNCIL OF ANIMALS

A bulldog, a horse, a bear, a cat, a crow and a baboon gather on a superyacht grounded on a cliff high above the sea to vote on whether to kill and eat the remaining population of perhaps a dozen humans after an eco-calamity destroyed the animals’ habitats. Each animal representative is given an opportunity to speak for or against consuming the humans. The arguments and vote-by-vote tallies are reported by a historian who, judging by the digressions throughout the narrative, may be more interested in yetis, the nature of courage, and bat justice, among other topics, than the fate of humanity. When the vote goes against the humans, the animals split into two forces: Those who intend to devour the humans and those who hope to save them from the other animals. Humorous wordplay—”it does not behoof the historian,” “the cat and dog confurred”—lightens the grim subject matter. Tension builds to a surprising and audacious climax, then flattens to a disappointing ending in which key elements are left unresolved.

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