Perpetual Vanishing: Animal Lives in Contemporary Scottish Fiction

Timothy C. Baker* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Animals, writes Akira Mizuta Lippit, ‘exist in a state of perpetual vanishing’: they haunt human concerns, but rarely appear as themselves. This is especially notable in contemporary Scottish fiction. While other national literatures often reflect the ‘animal turn’ in contemporary theory, the number of twenty-first-century Scottish novels concerned with human–animal relations remains disproportionately small. Looking at a broad cross-section of recent and understudied novels, including Mandy Haggith’s Bear Witness (2013), Ian Stephen’s A Book of Death and Fish (2014), Andrew O’Hagan’s The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe (2010), Malachy Tallack’s The Valley at the Centre of the World (2018), James Robertson’s To Be Continued (2016), and Sarah Hall’s The Wolf Border (2015) highlights the marginalisation of both nonhuman animals and texts centred on them. The relative absence of engagement with animal studies in Scottish fiction and criticism suggests new opportunities for reevaluating the formulation of environmental concerns in a Scottish context. By moving away from the unified concepts of ‘the land’ to a perspective that includes the precarious relations between humans, nonhuman animals, and their environment, these texts highlight the need for greater, and more nuanced, engagement with fictional representations of nonhuman animals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • nonhuman animals
  • rewilding
  • fish
  • crofting
  • Independence Referendum
  • peripherality


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