Our ReviewsPod by Laline Paul

Pod by Laline Paul



I read #pod , longlisted for @thewomensprize weeks ago & waited to write about it as I am genuinely still processing this visceral, explicit, graphic (be warned, I was speechless) story. 

This anthropomorphic book is about dolphins…from their perspective. Really. It is not the Disney version. I think people shy away from this, we want the infantilised, sedate, cute experience without seeing animals as s*xual or violent beings.

With a number of narrators, we follow young Ea, a dolphin who can’t spin or hear well. She gets caught in a brutal harem, dominated & violated by the aggressive male leaders. Google is another dolphin, trained at a navel base, with an entirely distorted perception of himself & his environment. @lalinepaull explores community, belonging, hierarchy & raw animal savagery, bringing a real sense of the vastness of the watery depths. There is endless beauty & hope in her prose, it made my soul yearn for the ocean at lighter points.

Pod provoked me to ponder so many things, how animals perceive us & the world, how we don’t conceive them having innate tendencies of social hierarchy & comparable intelligence. Is male s*xual violence endemic to all species? The destruction of nature, how we take ownership of spaces as an entitlement, how for all scientific developments, the ocean is largely unknown. Is it right to impose human moral standards on animals? Are zoos prisons? What do animals feel? Will I ever eat fish again? (spoiler alert I cant resist sushi). I fell into google rabbit holes for hours.

It made me want to go back to university because I need to discuss this book with my feminism lecturer, immerse myself in research & write a thesis on it. 

There are millions of books but Pod is astonishingly unique & an act of sheer creation, the voices somehow authentic. It will not be for many many people. At times I questioned what on earth I was reading. But this short novel was one of the most powerful, shocking & compelling books I have ever read. I doubt I will forget it or look at the ocean in the same way again ~ C💋

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