Meet Ivan and Prue. A married couple, both experts in language and communication, they teach at the same New England liberal arts college. But their similarities end there. A tightly wound philosophy professor, Ivan reveres logic and order above all. Prue is quite the opposite: a pioneer in the emerging field of biolinguistics, she is bold and vibrant, full of life and feeling. Thus far, they have managed to weather their differences. But lately, an odd distance has settled in between them. Might it have something to do with the arrival of the college’s dashing but insufferable new writer-in-residence, whose novel Prue always seems to be reading?
Into this delicate moment barrels Prue’s unstable father, Frank, in town to hear her deliver a landmark lecture on birdsong. But the talk doesn’t go as planned, unleashing a series of crises that force Ivan to finally confront the problems in his marriage, and to change in ways he never thought possible.
A dazzlingly insightful and entertaining novel about the limitations of language, the fragility of love, and the ways we misunderstand each other and ourselves, The Study of Animal Languages marks the debut of a brilliant new voice in fiction.