Animality as a catalyst for processing and surviving grief
Myfanwy Jones’s novel Leap sets the processing of human grief alongside an interesting exercise in pushing a nonhuman animal motif towards a deeper engagement with animality. Set in contemporary Melbourne, it follows the efforts of Joe and Elise to go on with their lives after the death of Jen, Joe’s girlfriend and Elise’s daughter. The “leap” of the title is for both characters a “deathdefying leap” of trying to come to terms with grief and loss, and ideas about animals and human animality play a significant role within this process. Despite dealing in some familiar tropes—the healing bildungsroman, the coming-ofage tale, the midlife crisis—the novel does not feel clichéd. Similarly, although she deploys tigers partly as metaphorical and therapeutic to the human characters, Jones nevertheless seems wary of reductive anthropocentrism. The result is at once an immediately relatable and moving tale of surviving loss, and an engagement with humans’ animality and the lot of real animals.