“Enter the Aardvark” by Jessica Anthony— Secrets Kept

Anthony, Jessica. “Enter the Aardvark”, Little, Brown and Company, 2020.

Secrets Kept

Amos Lassen

When ayoung congressman finds a mysterious stuffed aardvark on his doorstep, he sets out on a journey to find out what it means and in doing so learns about the secrets we keep from ourselves and their consequences.

One hot day in August, and millennial congressman Alexander Paine Wilson (R), is planning his first reelection campaign. He is in  denial about his sexuality. Then, via FedEx, he receives a gigantic aardvark, the work of a taxidermist. Like Wilson, we are thrown into contemporary American politics and Washington, D.C. Wilson tries to get rid of the aardvark, knowing that it could destroy his career. At the same time, the reader finds himself in Victorian England where the taxidermist, Titus Downing and Richard Ostlet, the naturalist who hunted her, live. We begin to see that the present world has been shaped in profound and disturbing ways by the secret that binds these men. 

Combining political satire, a ghost story and a love story, “Enter the Aardvark” looks at the consequences of repressed male coming together with oppressive male power, and how we are blind to this.

Writer Jessica Anthony connects characters from today with those from 19th-century England giving us an original and unsettling look at “male power as it has evolved over time.” She does so with humor and lots of heart, raising “some standard commentary about our relationship to politics and the media”.

Leave a Reply