Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct mammoth, this is the (mostly) true story of how a collection of prehistoric creatures came to be on sale at a natural history auction in New York in 2007. By tracing how and when these fossils were unearthed, Mammoth leads us on a funny and fascinating journey from the Pleistocene epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, revealing how ideas about science and religion have shaped our world.
With our planet on the brink of calamitous climate change, Mammoth scrutinises humanity’s role in the destruction of the natural world while also offering a message of hope.
‘Mammoth is a little gem of a book and a joy to read. It defies categorisation – historical fiction, social commentary, humour (in spades) and a look at humanity’s impact on the planet through the eyes of a creature we once shared it with, all singing together so nicely. The real treat is the voice of the central character – curmudgeonly and erudite yet heart-breakingly lost and confused, and utterly believable as a relic of a lost world.’ Meg Keneally, author of Fled and The Monsarrat Series
‘What an absolute joy of a book! If you’ve been feeling like the novel is an endangered species, then Mammoth is the book to bring it back to life for you. Mammoth shows anthropocentrism as the laughable delusion that it is, while still affirming the value and significance of story. This 13,000-year-old skeleton is my favourite character in years, and this hilarious and heartbreaking book is precisely what we hominids need right now. Read it immediately!’ Emily Bitto, author of The Strays
‘Long before the US–USSR “Missile gap” there was the US–Europe “Mammoth gap”, which President Thomas Jefferson set out to fix. Chris Flynn’s riveting mixture of fact and whimsy makes previously foreign names like Palaeospheniscus and Canis dirus memorable fellow travellers like Huck Finn and Ulysses. He gracefully leverages history to help us think about the future, big pictures and deep time.’ Dr George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, and head of the Harvard Woolly Mammoth Revival team
‘If a fossil could speak, it would tell a thousand words. Chris Flynn’s Mammoth elegantly fuses fiction with fact and reminds us that fossils are not just objects of curiosity and fascination. They are the remains of once-living creatures who had emotions, who fought, loved, and survived. The duration of their lived experience pales in comparison with that of their geological history, not to mention their time as “trophy” specimens prized by avid fossil collectors. Flynn captures this history artfully, accurately and humorously in Mammoth, where he brings these extraordinary creatures back to life, from death to décor, through superb storytelling.’ Dr Gilbert Price, Senior Lecturer in Palaeontology, The University of Queensland
‘Mammoth considers the fundamental nature of living, what it means to be sentient, and the surprisingly hopeful idea that that it is not enough to simply move on from our mistakes.’ Kill Your Darlings