by Benjamin Hale
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is narrated by a talking chimpanzee. “Bruno” is not a very pleasant ape. He has learned a lot of big words, and he loves to parade them. Although he’s a regular-sized chimp and he’s plagued by insecurities, his ego is the size of King Kong and he feels superior to most primates – including humans. Especially humans. Does that sound like the kind of “hero” with whom you want to spend 576 pages? At first, I didn’t think I wanted to, but I’m glad I hung in there with Bruno, because this book is an absolute knockout. Hale, who is all of 27 years old (the bastard!), has written a debut novel that practically screams out, “Literature is not dead!”
Bruno is not without flaws. There are times when the reader’s suspension of disbelief is sorely tested; this is, after all, a talking chimpanzee we’re asked to accept. But the book works on so many levels: unforgettable characters, penetrating insights about human nature; comedy and tragedy. Mostly, it’s the irascible, disturbing Bruno himself that will stay with you – whether you want him to or not.
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