Giraffe

Giraffe

Book - 2006
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Penguin Putnam
An astounding novel based on the true story of the life and mysterious death of the largest herd of giraffes ever held in captivity, in a Czechoslovakian town sleepwalking through communism in the early 1970s

In 1975, on the eve of May Day, secret police dressed in chemical warfare suits sealed off a zoo in a small Czechoslovakian town and ordered the destruction of the largest captive herd of giraffes in the world. This apparently senseless massacre lies at the heart of J. M. Ledgard's haunting first novel, which recounts the story of the giraffes from their capture in Africa to their deaths far away behind the Iron Curtain. At once vivid and unearthly, Giraffe is an unforgettable story about strangeness, about creatures that are alien and silent, about captivity, and finally about Czechoslovakia, a middling totalitarian state and its population of sleepwalkers.

It is also a story that might never have been told. Ledgard, a foreign correspondent for the Economist since 1995, unearthed the long-buried truth behind the deaths of these giraffes while researching his book, spending years following leads throughout the Czech Republic. In prose reminiscent of Italo Calvino and W. G. Sebald, he imbues the story with both a gripping sense of specificity and a profound resonance, limning the ways the giraffes enter the lives of the people around them, the secrecy and fear that permeate 1970s Czechoslovakia, and the quiet ways in which ordinary people become complicit in the crimes committed in their midst.

Baker & Taylor
A novel based on a bizarre, real-life incident that took place in 1975 Czechoslovakia describes the destruction of the world's largest captive herd of giraffes at a zoo in a small Czech town, recounting the story of the giraffes from their capture in Africa to their apparently senseless slaughter by the secret police. A first novel.

Blackwell North Amer
In 1975, on the eve of May Day, secret police dressed in chemical warfare suits sealed off a zoo in a small Czechoslovakian town, and ordered the destruction of the largest captive herd of giraffes in the world. This apparently senseless massacre lies at the heart of J. M. Ledgard's first novel. Ledgard tells the story of the giraffes from the moment of their capture in Africa to their deaths far away behind the Iron Curtain. We see them first through the eyes of Emil, a haemodynamicist (he studies blood flow in vertical creatures) who is chosen to accompany them from Hamburg by barge into Czechoslovakia. There Amina, a sleepwalker, a factory girl, glimpses their arrival, is awakened by them, and goes each day to gaze up at them. She is with them at the end, blinding them with a torch, as Jiri, a sharpshooter, brings them down one by one. "Giraffe" is a story about strangeness, about creatures that are alien, silent, finely mazed, and impossibly stretched. It is also a story about captivity, about Czechoslovakia, a middling totalitarian state in the middle of Europe that is itself asleep, under a spell, a nation of sleepwalkers.

Baker
& Taylor

Told from multiple points of view, a herd of giraffes is captured in Africa, brought to a small Czech town, and then systematically slaughtered by the secret police, in story offering parallels to Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2006
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9781594200991
1594200998
Characteristics: 298 p. ; 25 cm

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GLNovak
Apr 13, 2012

Story of the 23 giraffes taken from Africa to Czechoslovakia is based on fact, and told through the experience of Emil a blood dynamics scientist, Amina a factory worker, Tadeas a virologist, Jiri a sharpshooter,Tomas a butcher, and Snehurka a giraffe. The giraffes represent a foreigness, a lost freedom compared to the Czechoslovakia of the post-WWII communist regime. The imagery of the upward thrust of the giraffe heads and necks contrasts with the downward and inward perspectives of the humans. Very effective writing - at times too graphic for some readers.

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redwine86
Oct 02, 2011

I cannot renew this book through online. Please check. Thanks.

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