Book Review: What We Fed to the Manticore by Talia Lakshmi Kolluri

Title: What We Fed to the Manticore

Author: Talia Lakshmi Kolluri

Genre: Short Stories

Number of Pages: 200

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes

Okay, I’ll keep this review fairly brief because I find it a bit hard to critique short story collections. Anyway, the cover art and title for this book are gorgeous and I really liked that every story had an animal protagonist. The diversity of the settings and different types of animals also added to making it an overall engaging reading experience.

There’s a pigeon that finds itself in rehabilitation after injuring itself on a razor-stringed kite, a polar bear and a fox struggling to survive in a world ravaged by climate change, and a wolf caught in a particularly cruel time loop. The stories are emotional, often sad, and they deal with political issues concerning animals and the environment without being too on-the-nose about it. My favorite stories were ‘The Good Donkey’ and ‘A Level of Tolerance,’ which were also the saddest.

A couple of the stories (like the one with the pigeon, ‘Let Your Body Meet the Ground’) didn’t make much of an impression on me and I found myself having to double-check to figure out what they were about when flipping through the book. This occasional forgettability is why I didn’t rate the book higher, even though I did still enjoy it (as someone who doesn’t read a whole lot of short stories but is trying to get a little more familiar with them) and I recommend it to anyone who’s in the mood for a series of tender and emotional narratives that will make you feel a little more understanding of the rich, vibrant world around you.

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