For fans of Denis Johnson and Peter Matthiessen, a literary thriller from one of the most exciting new voices in American fiction.

Bill Reed manages a wildlife sanctuary in rural Idaho, caring for injured animals—raptors, a wolf, and his beloved bear, Majer, among them—that are unable to survive in the wild. Seemingly rid of his troubled past, Bill hopes to marry the local veterinarian and live a quiet life together, the promise of which is threatened when a childhood friend is released from prison. Suddenly forced to confront the secrets of his criminal youth, Bill battles fiercely to preserve the shelter that protects these wounded animals and to keep hidden his turbulent, even dangerous, history. Alternating between past and present, Christian Kiefer contrasts the wreckage of Bill’s crime-ridden years in Reno, Nevada, with the elusive promise of a peaceful future. In finely sculpted prose imaginatively at odds with the harsh, volatile world Kiefer evokes, The Animals builds powerfully toward the revelation of Bill’s defining betrayal—and the drastic lengths Bill goes to in order to escape the consequences.


  • Hardcover
  • Forthcoming March 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-87140-883-9
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 320 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide


“In The Animals, Christian Kiefer has created an unusual and compelling amalgam of noir classic—a man’s past comes back to haunt him—and the lyrical extended metaphor in the form of the North Idaho Animal Rescue, where his main character finds refuge and purpose. This tough-minded thriller weaves a hot red thread through an introspective, sensuous landscape, a meditation on instinct, memory and the nature of friendship between species and between men.” — Janet Fitch, author ofPaint it Black and White Oleander

“Mesmerizing….A thrilling story line that builds in momentum to an inevitable denouement, paced by prose that’s poetic without ever succumbing to preciousness. This is a compelling, thoughtful novel.” — Publishers Weekly

“Every once in a while, a book moves me to tears with the grace of its prose, the depth and humanity of its characters, and the ferocity of its singular vision. Christian Kiefer’s The Animals is such a book: a startling and beautiful novel about friendship, grief, and the urge to start over, to be blameless. I loved it.” — Edan Lepucki, author of California

“A rare young stylist, with an abundance of vivid, engrossing stories in his brain; Christian Kiefer is a genuine find.” — Richard Ford

“Kiefer creates a wilderness for us in these pages with as sure a hand as any god. All of life’s hardest questions are put to us with such confidence we do not see the hand at work. The Animals is beyond a pleasure to read.” — Tupelo Hassman, author ofGirlchild

“This novel came at me like some creature of the wild, caught my breath and rushed my heart and filled me with awe and wonder and gratitude at having witnessed it. From prose that made me want to linger to a story that ripped me ever forward, The Animals is simply that good. With it, Christian Kiefer proves himself that rarest of writers, one who matches an artist’s brave vision with a craftsman’s sure hand. I was blown away—and am still haunted—by this beautiful, masterful book.” — Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea

“Stretched out on a sun-warmed rock on the most beautiful river I know, on one of the last warm days high in the Sierras, a beer cooling in the water, a galley of Christian Kiefer’s The Animals in my hands six months before the book hits the shelves, no one around to hear me over the roaring water: my exclamations of awe and jealousy at each moment of masterful craftsmanship those pages contain.” — Josh Weil, Barnes & Noble Review