Celebrated writers Leslie Jamison, Laura Jean McKay and guest curator Rebecca Giggs, have each penned recent works that examine animal and human communication. Speaking with Elizabeth McCarthy, they consider the question: if we really could speak with animals, would we feel more or less at home among them? Laura Jean’s The Animals in That Country imagines a world in which humans can talk with animals. Rebecca’s Fathoms: the world in the whale looks at communication between whales. Leslie’s essay ‘52 Blue’ in Make It Scream, Make It Burn focuses on a unique whale, thought to be the only one of its kind, who becomes a totem for people’s loneliness.

Leslie Jamison (International)

Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison is the New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering, a critical memoir, two essay collections (The Empathy Exams and Make It Scream, Make It Burn) and a novel (The Gin Closet). She is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and directs the graduate non-fiction program at Columbia University.

Laura Jean McKay (Australian)

Laura Jean McKay

Laura Jean McKay writes about humans and other animals. She is the author of The Animals in That Country and Holiday in Cambodia, which was shortlisted for three National Book Awards: the 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Award, the 2014 Queensland Literary Award and the 2015 Asher Award for books on an anti-war theme. Laura is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Massey University.

Rebecca Giggs (Australian)

Rebecca Giggs

Rebecca Giggs is a writer from Perth, Australia. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Science Writing and other publications. Her first book is Fathoms: the world in the whale.

Elizabeth McCarthy (Australian)

Elizabeth McCarthy

Elizabeth McCarthy is a Melbourne-based radio producer and presenter who produces the Breakfast show at Australia’s biggest independent broadcaster, 3RRRFM. Her book reviews can currently be heard on Triple R and ABC Radio Melbourne, and she interviews authors at writers festivals and ideas events across Australia. From 2013–2017, she anchored Triple R’s flagship books and writing show, Multi-Storied. Elizabeth has produced and presented interviews and documentaries for ABC radio and television, and she has written about books and music for several publications.