“A wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth . . . That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition, and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heartbreaking, and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Kayla Rae Whitaker’s formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page. Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time.”—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest
ONE OF THE BEST DEBUT NOVELS OF THE YEAR—Entertainment Weekly
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—NPR, Kirkus Reviews, BookPage
She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.
In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.
Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.
A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.
“Suffused with humor, tragedy and deep insights about art and friendship.”—People
“[A] stunning debut.”—Variety
“A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators.”—Elle
Kayla Rae Whitaker’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, Lenny Letter, and others. She has an MFA from New York University. Her debut novel, THE ANIMATORS, was named one of the best debut novels of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly and one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage.
Learn more at www.kaylaraewhitaker.com
SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
A NEW YORK TIMES Selection for BEST 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
A BUZZFEED BOOK OF THE YEAR
A SKIMM READS PICK
A PICK FOR THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY'S 2018 BEST BOOKS
Soon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler
In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico's funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister.
Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (June 19, 2018)
Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
Rebecca Makkai is the author of The Borrower, The Hundred-Year House, which won the Novel of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, and Music for Wartime. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, Harper's, and Tin House, among others. She lives outside Chicago with her husband and two daughters.