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Book Title

Animal Joy

A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation
Author 1
Nuar Alsadir
Laughter shakes us out of our deadness. An outburst of spontaneous laughter is an eruption from the unconscious that, like political resistance, poetry, or self-revelation, expresses a provocative, impish drive to burst free from external constraints. Taking laughter’s revelatory capacity as a starting point, and rooted in Nuar Alsadir’s experience as a poet and psychoanalyst, Animal Joy seeks to recover the sensation of being present and embodied.
Writing in a poetic, associative style, blending the personal with the theoretical, Alsadir ranges from her experience in clown school, Anna Karenina’s morphine addiction, Freud’s un-Freudian behaviors, marriage brokers and war brokers, to “Not Jokes,” Abu Ghraib, Fanon’s negrophobia, smut, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, laugh tracks, the problem with adjectives, and how poetry can wake us up. At the center of the book, however, is the author’s relationship with her daughters, who erupt into the text like sudden, unexpected laughter. These interventions—frank, tender, and always a challenge to the writer and her thinking—are like tiny revolutions, pointedly showing the dangers of being severed from one’s true self and hinting at ways one might be called back to it.
A bold and insatiably curious prose debut, Animal Joy is an ode to spontaneity and feeling alive.

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An invigorating, continuously surprising book about the serious nature of laughter

About the Author

Nuar  Alsadir
Credit: Grace Yu
Nuar Alsadir, a poet and psychoanalyst, is the author of Fourth Person Singular, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and More Shadow Than Bird. She lives in New York City.
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  • “[Animal Joy] jumps for intellectual joy, hopscotching from literary criticism to philosophy and psychology to political analysis. . . . Yet, by sleight of pen, these philosophy-laden pages remain light and graceful. . . . The book is in effect a gift to the courageous. It offers an opportunity for self-reflection and growth. . . . Great art mainly makes you not think but feel. Animal Joy made me do both.”—Melissa Holbrook Pierson, The Washington Post
  • “As a poet and psychoanalyst, Alsadir is fascinated by the way moments that make us laugh and feel deeply happen when the tender and taboo parts of life see the light. When something – our deep laughter, our authentic grief – upends the narratives we’d rather keep steady, we also discover the possibility for transformation.”—Tess Taylor,
  • “[Animal Joy] will leave you feeling enlightened and emboldened, and will even make you laugh.”—Hephzibah Anderson, The Guardian
  • “Alsadir is uniquely positioned as an excavator of human emotion. . . . She draws a constellation of interactions . . . [which are] essential components of her thinking. . . . Though the terrain Alsadir covers is vast and often feels tenuously connected, the resonant beauty of her prose helps guide the reader through a deliberately cluttered and complicated narrative. . . . Challenging and deeply rewarding.”—Celia Mattison, BookPage
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