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Poetry. Cross-Genre. Asian American Studies. In this new prose document, Bhanu Kapil follows a film crew to the Bengal jungle to re-encounter the true account of two girls found living with wolves in 1921. Taking as its source text the diary of the missionary who strove to rehabilitate these orphans through language instruction and forcible correction of supinated limbs HU Poetry. Cross-Genre. Asian American Studies. In this new prose document, Bhanu Kapil follows a film crew to the Bengal jungle to re-encounter the true account of two girls found living with wolves in 1921. Taking as its source text the diary of the missionary who strove to rehabilitate these orphans through language instruction and forcible correction of supinated limbs HUMANIMAL functions as a healing mutation for three bodies and a companion poiesis for future physiologies. Through wolfgirls Kamala and Amala, there is a grafting: what scars down into the feral opens out also into the fierce, into a remembrance of Kapil's father. The humanimal text becomes one in which personal and postcolonial histories cross a wilderness to form supported metabiology. "Lucidly, holographically, your heart pulsed in the air next to your body; then my eyes clicked the photo into place. Future child, in the time you lived in, your arms always itched and flaked. To write this, the memoir of your body, I slip my arms into the sleeves of your shirt. I slip my arms into yours, to become four-limbed."


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Poetry. Cross-Genre. Asian American Studies. In this new prose document, Bhanu Kapil follows a film crew to the Bengal jungle to re-encounter the true account of two girls found living with wolves in 1921. Taking as its source text the diary of the missionary who strove to rehabilitate these orphans through language instruction and forcible correction of supinated limbs HU Poetry. Cross-Genre. Asian American Studies. In this new prose document, Bhanu Kapil follows a film crew to the Bengal jungle to re-encounter the true account of two girls found living with wolves in 1921. Taking as its source text the diary of the missionary who strove to rehabilitate these orphans through language instruction and forcible correction of supinated limbs HUMANIMAL functions as a healing mutation for three bodies and a companion poiesis for future physiologies. Through wolfgirls Kamala and Amala, there is a grafting: what scars down into the feral opens out also into the fierce, into a remembrance of Kapil's father. The humanimal text becomes one in which personal and postcolonial histories cross a wilderness to form supported metabiology. "Lucidly, holographically, your heart pulsed in the air next to your body; then my eyes clicked the photo into place. Future child, in the time you lived in, your arms always itched and flaked. To write this, the memoir of your body, I slip my arms into the sleeves of your shirt. I slip my arms into yours, to become four-limbed."

30 review for Humanimal: A Project for Future Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    "I want to make a dark mirror out of writing: one child facing the other, like Dora and little Hans. I want to write, for example, about the violence done to my father's body as a child. In this re-telling, India is blue, green, black and yellow like the actual, reflective surface of a mercury globe. I pour the mercury into a shallow box to see it: my father's right leg, linear and hard as the bone it contains, and silver. There are scooped out places where the flesh is missing, shiny, as they w "I want to make a dark mirror out of writing: one child facing the other, like Dora and little Hans. I want to write, for example, about the violence done to my father's body as a child. In this re-telling, India is blue, green, black and yellow like the actual, reflective surface of a mercury globe. I pour the mercury into a shallow box to see it: my father's right leg, linear and hard as the bone it contains, and silver. There are scooped out places where the flesh is missing, shiny, as they would be regardless of race. A scar is memory. Memory is wrong. The wrong face appears in the wrong memory. A face, for example, condenses on the surface of the mirror in the bathroom when I stop writing to wash my face. Hands on the basin, I look up, and see it: distinct image of an owlgirl. Her eyes protrude, her tongue is sticking out, and she has horns, wings and feet. Talons. I look into her eyes and see his. Writing makes a mirror between the two children who perceive each other. In a physical world, the mirror is a slice of dark space. How do you break a space? No. Tell me a story set in a different time, in a different place. Because I'm scared. I'm scared of the child I'm making."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Priscilla

    Was okay. Had two fundamental problems with the text: humans are also animals - it's not Us AND the animals - so the author's distancing the human animal from the other animals is a real problem with what she's trying to do with this narrative. My other problem is that the original story of the wolf girls was faked, and if her premise is that it's real and that she's researching a real story and the expanding, imagining, and creating vision and expanded story around it, then it's a real problem Was okay. Had two fundamental problems with the text: humans are also animals - it's not Us AND the animals - so the author's distancing the human animal from the other animals is a real problem with what she's trying to do with this narrative. My other problem is that the original story of the wolf girls was faked, and if her premise is that it's real and that she's researching a real story and the expanding, imagining, and creating vision and expanded story around it, then it's a real problem if the story at the core isn't real, since the author is clearly starting from the wolf girls having really existed as such. Second time through - I just really don't like this book. It made me less actively angry this time, but simultaneously the things that are problems stood out as even more problematic an inexcusable than before (now that I've cooled down and had time to think more on them). Also - my students pretty much unilaterally HATE this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Arrieu-King

    Moving piece of research, cross-genre, metaphor, travel writing, memoir. This writer excels at getting at the extremely strange intersections of power dynamics: how the man who tries to tame a wild girl who has been raised by wolves (based on true accounts) is as much of an animal, possibly more, etc.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    "Behind the church is a jungle" - this is what 'non-fiction' or 'documentary poetry' or 'research poetry' or whatever should be like.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nick Carassanesi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Bhanu Kapil’s Humanimal: A project for Future Children, is an unorthodox narrative that combines many points of view in extremely small clippings of reflection into a relatively close confines. It is not strictly chronological, but includes perspectives arranged together from an Anglo-British filmmaker visiting Bengal to make a documentary about two feral girls who were alleged to have been found in the area decades ago, as well as points of view which seem to originate from these girls themselv Bhanu Kapil’s Humanimal: A project for Future Children, is an unorthodox narrative that combines many points of view in extremely small clippings of reflection into a relatively close confines. It is not strictly chronological, but includes perspectives arranged together from an Anglo-British filmmaker visiting Bengal to make a documentary about two feral girls who were alleged to have been found in the area decades ago, as well as points of view which seem to originate from these girls themselves, lost and confused amidst the harsh transition between the natural and human-settled worlds. The three sets of perspectives each experience their own sequence of events in an order which is, if not totally chronological, than, at the very least, thematic. The perspective of the reverend Joseph Singh, who captured and attempted to civilize the girls, details how he found them in a cave, killed the wolf who had raised them, and brought them back to his church-run orphanage. It describes, in detail, how he shaved and cleaned them in a ritual that is, in spite of its simplicity, perceptibly brutal. He attempts to train them to participate in human society, forcing them to eat human foods and speak human language. His attempts to force them to walk upright involve breaking their legs. His efforts prove partially in vain as one of the girls dies relatively soon after they are captured. The other lives a few more years, but never ceases to display her feral nature. The account of her concludes with a failed attempt to escape back into the wild. There are, however, and more importantly, the perspectives of the girls themselves, and the reflections of the Anglo-Indian filmmaker. The filmmaker arrives in Bengal and is forced to negotiate with a local customs official who warns them of possible dangers of attacks from criminals. She observes a local making clay figurines to display for religious purposes, receives sweetened tea as a gift from local associates, and watches a local Marxist theater troop dramatize the events of the girl’s lives in a manner which demonizes the wild nature of their upbringing. The filmmaker also reflects upon the origin of the girls, imagining a scenario in which a newborn, left outside under a tree for ritual purposes, is stolen away by a wolf before the parents can retrieve it. Eventually, the filmmaker, who’s life story seems to mirror that of Kapil herself, returns to Denver from Bengal with a banana leaf taken as a keepsake, which she holds close to herself. There is, finally, the perspective of the girls themselves, which displays, rather than a sense of direct perceptible representation, a sense of thematic weight and feeling, in representation of the thoughts and feelings of someone who has no acquired understanding of the boundaries and context of human society. It begins with a reflection of moving through the forest, and of companionship with the wolf who raised the girls, remembered fondly as “mother.” One of the girls is soon captured, and recounts the process of being forced into civilization in gruesome detail, made all the more unnerving by her inability to comprehend what is being done to her. She is fed, and remembers being breastfed by her “mother,” whom she wishes to see again. She remembers her capture with fearfulness, and is eventually made to dress in human clothes and participate in human church-rituals. She masters some very basic rudiments of language or, perhaps, is simply said to have by a preacher who wishes to believe it so. She continues to pine for the wilderness, even though she eventually masters letters well enough to write at the time of her last failed escape. One major theme of the work appears to be the recurring commonality between the surviving child, Kamala, and the filmmaker, Kapil who, in spite of their separation by time and culture, appear to share a similar capacity for feelings and perspective. One notable example of this is the totem of the banana leaf. On page 49, Kamala recounts “I took a leaf from the home to dry it, to make a piece of paper with three raised seams.” Kapil retrieves a similar trinket on page 65, “As the plane descended to Denver, I took a dry leaf, a banana leaf with three raised seams, from its place in my book and crumpled it, crushed it really, onto my leg through my skirt.” These matching symbols can indicate a shared desire, between one person raised in the colonial metropole and another raised in the wild, to find truth of self in their expression. Kamala, for example, recounts, “I’ve exhausted the alphabet. But I’m not writing this for you” on page 63. Here, she has finally chosen to use human language, but not for the purposes of her captors but for herself. Kapil recognizes this on page 64, recounting “I cannot speak for her now.” This reflects a desire for authentic reflection that Kapil expressed earlier on page 31 as she wondered, “What stopped my hand?” when she tried to write after one of Kamala’s reflections on being captured. The commonalities seem to suggest that regardless of upbringing, civilization or nature, a human being will desire to express the truth, and to express their own truth, rather than allow somebody else to express it for them. This would be, in the parlance of the text, the “humanimal” drive. Overall, I found this text to be difficult, but not without its enjoyable aspects. The juxtaposition between the raw natural innocence of Kamala, the earnest curiosity and introspection of Kapil, and the presumptuous brutality of reverend Singh to be strikingly effective. The choice of text to enter the mind of a person hailing from outside of society was oddly beautiful in its poetic cant, and I found the thematic narrative of the struggle between Kamala and reverend Singh to be emotionally relatable in spite of the utter unrelatability of the actual circumstances themselves. Nonetheless, the style is jarringly non-direct, using surprising word choices which might baffle perception until one has the chance to acclimate to them, and the lack of explicit points of view is likely to confound one’s sense of perspective on first reading. It may take time to accept the text on its own terms, and I would only recommend it to those who enjoy this kind of reading. If you do enjoy this kind of reading, I would recommend giving it more than once-over, since a work this short may not give your mind time to acclimate otherwise.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    Bhanu Kapil's creation, "Humanimal," was enthralling from a creative writing perspective, but also from an anthropological and sociological standpoint. What truly drives this book, however, is the incredible story behind it...the "Bengali wolf girls" Kamala and Amala. Kapil takes this intrinsically fascinating concept of humans in the wild and turns it into a fast-paced, clear narrative described from multiple standpoints and in multiple styles. This seamless transition of form was very impressi Bhanu Kapil's creation, "Humanimal," was enthralling from a creative writing perspective, but also from an anthropological and sociological standpoint. What truly drives this book, however, is the incredible story behind it...the "Bengali wolf girls" Kamala and Amala. Kapil takes this intrinsically fascinating concept of humans in the wild and turns it into a fast-paced, clear narrative described from multiple standpoints and in multiple styles. This seamless transition of form was very impressive. I also enjoyed her use of diction when narrating from the view of the wolf girls: for example, on page 23, "The nest is brown. Best is brown next to yellow. Best is blue then brown. Best yellow. Where will the sun go when it is finished?" She elegantly captures a simplistic thought without losing the reader in the process. Overall, I think the effect of these transitions amplified the story by covering it from so many angles, and I think this style truly set it apart from many other poetry and creative writing pieces. A very dynamic and unusual book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    "Pulling her back from her unique pattern" At the outset, I didn't enjoy Khapil's strategy, which seemed to induce with directness and then suddenly got clunky and alien. She didn't seem wild or animal, just foreign to me. I think this happened because she was mixing in a post-modern, self-conscious journalistic ethos that feels very compelled to illustrate and also tempted to remain aloof. I was annoyed by this throughout the book. However, the language grows more and more dominating, and one fe "Pulling her back from her unique pattern" At the outset, I didn't enjoy Khapil's strategy, which seemed to induce with directness and then suddenly got clunky and alien. She didn't seem wild or animal, just foreign to me. I think this happened because she was mixing in a post-modern, self-conscious journalistic ethos that feels very compelled to illustrate and also tempted to remain aloof. I was annoyed by this throughout the book. However, the language grows more and more dominating, and one feels the immersion as the little book progresses. I ended up enjoying the book and respecting Khapil's control and taste, but I was not fully enthralled by her economy with sounds and words with respect to meanings--there are times when she gets caught up in writing her "alphabet to O." Ultimately, I liked it, the gesture had a good shape, the ending like a minor chord with a major sixth: ordering, closing, and yet unsettled.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chaneli

    based on the true story of Kamala and Amala, two girls living with wolves in Bengal, India during the 1920's. An Indian missionary Reverand Singh finds the girls and takes them home and for ten years documents his attempts to teach them language, upright movements, and moral standards. This work also documents Kapil's journey of filming a documentary on the wolf girls and researching about them during this time. The work speaks about Kapil's father and what happened to his body during his childh based on the true story of Kamala and Amala, two girls living with wolves in Bengal, India during the 1920's. An Indian missionary Reverand Singh finds the girls and takes them home and for ten years documents his attempts to teach them language, upright movements, and moral standards. This work also documents Kapil's journey of filming a documentary on the wolf girls and researching about them during this time. The work speaks about Kapil's father and what happened to his body during his childhood and how that affected him physically. It weaves in an out from all these various perspectives of documentary and poetics as well as asking very powerful questions. kapil blows my mind every time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    embodied, animaled, engrossing, yet brief--blunt acknowledgment of the fragmentary remains of a fascinating tale of two feral children taken from their den by a missionary in 1920s India.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Blake Carrera

    Humanimal, much like Bhanu Kapil's catalog as a whole, is a text that defies categorization and challenges the reader to move past preconceptions of narrative, style, and form. It is simultaneously personal and distant, speculative and reflective. The centerpiece of the book is her journey to India with a film crew as they make a film on human-wolf contacts. There, Kapil began work on this book, which focuses on the story of Kamala and Amala, two girls who were supposedly raised by wolves. Their Humanimal, much like Bhanu Kapil's catalog as a whole, is a text that defies categorization and challenges the reader to move past preconceptions of narrative, style, and form. It is simultaneously personal and distant, speculative and reflective. The centerpiece of the book is her journey to India with a film crew as they make a film on human-wolf contacts. There, Kapil began work on this book, which focuses on the story of Kamala and Amala, two girls who were supposedly raised by wolves. Their story is complicated by the fact that the only source was the diary of a doctor who supposedly took them from the wolf that was raising them. The general consensus is that the story was a massive hoax. That doesn't stop Kapil from creating a compelling piece of speculative and highly lyrical nonfiction. It's important to understand, when journeying into Kapil's prose, that the style is not in line with Western literary norms. It moves back and forth, traversing time and space, and challenges the reader to put aside their preconceptions of how we read. The book can be hard to follow because of this. It isn't a comforting reading experience, but it is valuable because we as readers must accept that we don't own the text. In this way, it represents the type of postcolonial writing that Spivak championed. Even the sentence structure is challenging. For example, Kapil writes, "Wet, wet, green, green. I mix with them and prosper. Sticky then my mother licks me clean. The nest is brown. Best is brown next to yellow. Best is blue then brown. Best yellow. Where will the sun go when it is finished?" While the prose itself challenges the limits of understanding, it is evocative in its attempt to understand what might have gone on in the minds of these feral children (even though, as mentioned, it was most likely a hoax on the part of Joseph Singh). The main difficulty I had with this book is its organization and brevity. Though it would be difficult to pull off a larger text without bogging down the reader, I feel like this needed a little more. For example, there is a thread in the book that discusses her father and his childhood in India. This could have both been connected slightly more to the main thread and expanded. I understood that it was a discussion of the comparison between the East and the West, but I felt that Kapil did not integrate it in enough quantity. The same applies to the film crew - they had to be in the book because of their role in the journey, but it seemed like a distraction. I think it was intended to serve as a commentary on exploitation, but I wanted it to be slightly more overt. All in all, this book is a valuable addition to the genre of speculative nonfiction and postcolonial writing. The density is challenging but necessary. The writing is lyrical, which was paramount to any attempt to understand the psychology of a feral child. Ultimately, the title itself is one of the greatest illustrations - it is a commentary on divisiveness, on understanding, and on exploitation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Shrewsbury

    Humanimal mixes genres and perspectives in an unexpected manner, taking the reader through a range of emotions. Perhaps it is debatable, but I thought that this perfectly mixed poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. The bigger text on the page felt mostly as if it were Kamala or Amala's point of view, and it was very poetic in nature. Not traditional line-break/white space/caesura poetry, but a sort of prose poetry that had multiple meanings in each word and phrase. Reading those parts in a non-linea Humanimal mixes genres and perspectives in an unexpected manner, taking the reader through a range of emotions. Perhaps it is debatable, but I thought that this perfectly mixed poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. The bigger text on the page felt mostly as if it were Kamala or Amala's point of view, and it was very poetic in nature. Not traditional line-break/white space/caesura poetry, but a sort of prose poetry that had multiple meanings in each word and phrase. Reading those parts in a non-linear voice allowed the reader to really immerse themselves into that "other," that space where we feel uncomfortable and alienated, much like the girls in the story. I also loved the subtle commentary on religion, race, and colonialism; the girls being a symbol of a culture forced into something they're completely foreign to. Something that feels unnatural, and leads to an ultimate demise. The story of the girls represent a perfect metaphor for larger aspects of colonialism and missionary work. The story, as I've stated previously, does not follow a linear pattern that you would normally find in stories, so it would be hard to summarize the novel in that way. We know from the very beginning that the girls die soon after being captured, so this is hardly a spoiler or climax to the story - but it is the journey of their "conversion" and the fictional poetic prose from their perspective that makes the story visceral and worthwhile. Even though I'm a traditional-type of person, I really adored this book. I loved the constant challenges I faced as a reader, yet I didn't find it to be so "out there" that I didn't fully understand what was going on. To me, this was a very successful genre-mix and social commentary.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janna Patterson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Humanimal is a hybrid work the considers two feral children discovered in the 20's by a missionary in India. The girls had been living with wolves; when they were discovered, the girls were taken to an orphanage and the wolf pack was killed. In a mixture of different points of view, Bhanu Kapil analyzes the girls' "reformation" through the lens of the diary of the missionary and reimagines what their experiences would have been like in the first person from their point of view in very poetic pro Humanimal is a hybrid work the considers two feral children discovered in the 20's by a missionary in India. The girls had been living with wolves; when they were discovered, the girls were taken to an orphanage and the wolf pack was killed. In a mixture of different points of view, Bhanu Kapil analyzes the girls' "reformation" through the lens of the diary of the missionary and reimagines what their experiences would have been like in the first person from their point of view in very poetic prose. Other topics that come into play are various notes and thoughts that Kapil formed while on the search for the girls' story as well as parallels to their stories that Kapil found in her father's interactions with colonial issues in India. This book is similar to other works by Kapil, especially in its focus on the body and in it's poetic prose. Kapil tends to take really beautiful descriptions of things and then twist them into grotesque images with no transition, which I think leaves a deep impression on the reader. When she was describing the way the girls were treated by the doctors, lush descriptions of their perception of the world were intermingled with images of body horror that are meant to describe the girls' fear to the reader. Personally, I always have mixed feelings about Kapil because I think her prose is beautiful, but I'm not a poet so I find it frustrating at times when meaning is sacrificed for the sake of lyricism. I think that the most important thing to consider about this book is that it's meant to be read slowly, or perhaps to be read several times, if the goal of the reader is to determine the meaning behind all of Kapil's choices. However, if the goal of the reader is to discover some amazing prose, this is where you'll find it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Alvarez

    Having only read it once, there's not a ton I can say about Humanimal, besides the fact that its gorgeous defamiliarizing/mechanizing language drew me in from the beginning. This is a self-consciously experimental journalistic project tells several stories -- Kapil's trip with a French film group doing a documentary on the subject matter -- strange/funny joke about the cameraperson of this Marxist crew being unhappy that the project leaves no room for 'chance' (the nouvelle vague would be proud) Having only read it once, there's not a ton I can say about Humanimal, besides the fact that its gorgeous defamiliarizing/mechanizing language drew me in from the beginning. This is a self-consciously experimental journalistic project tells several stories -- Kapil's trip with a French film group doing a documentary on the subject matter -- strange/funny joke about the cameraperson of this Marxist crew being unhappy that the project leaves no room for 'chance' (the nouvelle vague would be proud). To brass-tack it, instead of Kapil reporting the subject matter in straight-ahead fashion, she takes a cubist/impressionist approach. At first, you're not sure whose POV the books's many microchapters are written from. Then there it the impressionist element, where the world is blurred through the author's words. I'm going with a lot of visuality here, because Kapil's writing is highly visual (she writes in the acknowledgements about her engagement with architecture in writing this -- not something that's evident, but Kapil makes it appear that some spatializing grid going on with the narrative that I'm sure further reads would elucidate.) So, lines like this: "Like automata, the trees rise up in rows, mechanically." Besides the notions of Cartesian mechanism that aut0mata will elicit -- and which can be mapped on two the wolf-risen children as they are "humanized," the reader also goes "Trees can't be automata. What a curious idea. Neat."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mekenzie Dyer

    This book is where speculative fiction meets reality for Kapil. This book opened up a lot of questions for me. I had studied about feral children in linguistics classes, particularly in the fact that most feral children are unable to learn language. While younger children might pick up some words, but they will never be able to get the formative structure of language. However, that was all I knew. This book made me seriously question the treatment of feral children after their "rescue." So I did This book is where speculative fiction meets reality for Kapil. This book opened up a lot of questions for me. I had studied about feral children in linguistics classes, particularly in the fact that most feral children are unable to learn language. While younger children might pick up some words, but they will never be able to get the formative structure of language. However, that was all I knew. This book made me seriously question the treatment of feral children after their "rescue." So I did some research. For one, it appears Kamala was often beaten by Singh, truly. The book describes some horrific abuses perpetrated against her, but it is just a sickening to know that some of those things could have actually been done. Not to mention the speculation that Kamala and Amala were not raised by wolves, but instead could have been Autistic, it makes my heart sink. I think what Kapil is trying to do with this book, is connect with the wildness of these girls, forced to be something else and eventually dying because of it. It is inherently interesting trying to get into the mindset of a feral child, which Kapil does with due diligence while braiding in second person accounts of the girls with sections from Singh's own journal. Kapil also brings in their own father's experience growing up. Over all, I think this is a really thought provoking book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mia Aguilera

    Annotations On page 63 Khapil writes "These are the wrong questions but they pass the time. They make a body real. This is a text to do that. Vivify." These lines encapsulate what Humanimal did for me. They made the human body come up before me like I was examining someone else's skin and sometimes the body turned into a wolf. The body was vivid and often broke. When Amala dies I want to know how the missionaries feel about this event. If she was healthy living in the jungle then dies when she is Annotations On page 63 Khapil writes "These are the wrong questions but they pass the time. They make a body real. This is a text to do that. Vivify." These lines encapsulate what Humanimal did for me. They made the human body come up before me like I was examining someone else's skin and sometimes the body turned into a wolf. The body was vivid and often broke. When Amala dies I want to know how the missionaries feel about this event. If she was healthy living in the jungle then dies when she is brought under human care, this seems like God might be saying not to interfere. But this is only what I want them to think. Not only does Kamala retain her wolf-like traits, but they are transferred to people at the orphanage. For example, when the doctor is brought a plate of buttered chicken and chilies, he eats it "quickly and sloppily, like a dog," (25). Is it the many translations, Bengali to Hindi to English, that causes Khapil to write "beak" instead of "muzzle"? "Red worms came out of their bodies and the younger girl died," (55). What was the yellow powder (sulphites?) and what did it do to the kidneys?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I can appreciate what Kapil attempts to do with this novel. It is experimentally written with several different writing styles put together which makes it engaging to read because you have to be paying close attention to be able to follow what is going on. I finished the novel feeling like I was stuck in a paradox because Kamala and Amala do not seem like they are actually wild children to me, they came off more like children who just did not understand society because they were not exposed to i I can appreciate what Kapil attempts to do with this novel. It is experimentally written with several different writing styles put together which makes it engaging to read because you have to be paying close attention to be able to follow what is going on. I finished the novel feeling like I was stuck in a paradox because Kamala and Amala do not seem like they are actually wild children to me, they came off more like children who just did not understand society because they were not exposed to it. But I can also understand how identifying someone as not understanding society can be seen as being wild. This might be because I have read other novels that cover people being "introduced" into society like Susan Schaller's "A Man Without Words," in which the main character is seen as a brute until it becomes clear that he never was formally taught a language recognized by society and was never taught that sign language existed until adulthood. Regardless, I think what is unique and makes the novel worth reading is the format of the novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I thoroughly enjoyed this tangled, speculative and memoir-esque piece. In this work, it's clear that Kapil is thinking about structure and about human and animal as a societal binary that does not usually allow for the two to exist at once. Her nonlinear and experimental structure does the work of breaking down structural conformity in a way that made me think she was making a case for wildness, railing against the standards and expectations of humanness. Her use of color throughout is startling I thoroughly enjoyed this tangled, speculative and memoir-esque piece. In this work, it's clear that Kapil is thinking about structure and about human and animal as a societal binary that does not usually allow for the two to exist at once. Her nonlinear and experimental structure does the work of breaking down structural conformity in a way that made me think she was making a case for wildness, railing against the standards and expectations of humanness. Her use of color throughout is startlingly beautiful, but strikes me as an exploration of the natural, wild, and animal world through the lens of human experience. These passages and descriptions about colors, of the children, of the jungle, of the moon, of animals infuse the piece with a lyrical artistry that seems more human than animal. Ultimately, Kapil has achieved a transcendence of the binary, represented by her portmanteau of humanimal to show that there can be an existence that operates in the liminal space between the binaries.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zamarit

    This book a bit confusing, but with the confusion I think it works. I feel like if one where to go from not being/growing up in civilization and then going into civilization it would be much like this book is written. When reading it I felt a bit disoriented at time, because a lot of the sections/paragraphs I read I felt could just stand alone (and they do in a way) and it was hard at times to make myself stop trying to make connections. I think going even further with this it mimics kind of a li This book a bit confusing, but with the confusion I think it works. I feel like if one where to go from not being/growing up in civilization and then going into civilization it would be much like this book is written. When reading it I felt a bit disoriented at time, because a lot of the sections/paragraphs I read I felt could just stand alone (and they do in a way) and it was hard at times to make myself stop trying to make connections. I think going even further with this it mimics kind of a liminal state in which you find yourself at times in life. I think that was why I enjoyed this book so much. I don't think or believe stories need to be linear in order to be told. Life is not linear. I think in the stories and narrations being told in this it mimics that really well in that not everything is in order just like doesn't go linearly or smoothly.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Youze da Funk

    git yo factz rite boiieeee – dat rev singh wuznt no rapist. colonial toady to da nth & not ok to crossdress dem autistikz as ferilz 4real but DAMN. unloading da ol hand shandy on dem anthill diaper piles????? fuuuuhhhhh. dem gurlz be always widout so 4git dis fakeass poeticz, feral appropriation & self-aggrandizement dressed up lyk some radical post-avant garde, animal writing booshit. aestheticz widout ethics be u, soupy confessional cliches, da self-disavowing lyric straight outta iowa shit!!! git yo factz rite boiieeee – dat rev singh wuznt no rapist. colonial toady to da nth & not ok to crossdress dem autistikz as ferilz 4real but DAMN. unloading da ol hand shandy on dem anthill diaper piles????? fuuuuhhhhh. dem gurlz be always widout so 4git dis fakeass poeticz, feral appropriation & self-aggrandizement dressed up lyk some radical post-avant garde, animal writing booshit. aestheticz widout ethics be u, soupy confessional cliches, da self-disavowing lyric straight outta iowa shit!!!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kate Savage

    I loved this prose/poetry. One frustration: the story of the wolf-girls is so compelling in its bare facts that I wanted more bare facts, rather than weeding through the poetry to fish out what might be facts.

  21. 4 out of 5

    D

    I've been wanting to read a Kapil book for ages, and I devoured this. It's vicious and expansive; I felt like I was there with her the entire time. I, obviously, cried when she talked about her father.

  22. 5 out of 5

    nico

    heartbreaking and profound. tentacular

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cary Stough

    probably my favorite Bhanu Kapil

  24. 5 out of 5

    Addyson Santese

    Kapil's book is both fascinating and alienating in the way in which she explores the binaries of civilization and the natural world. She also breaks away from the traditional reconstructive narrative, choosing, instead to create a blend of poetry, prose, documentation, and speculation. One of the elements that makes this text difficult is simply the number of stories being told in such a short space of time in a very disjointed, nonlinear fashion. From Kapil's excursion to India to her childhood Kapil's book is both fascinating and alienating in the way in which she explores the binaries of civilization and the natural world. She also breaks away from the traditional reconstructive narrative, choosing, instead to create a blend of poetry, prose, documentation, and speculation. One of the elements that makes this text difficult is simply the number of stories being told in such a short space of time in a very disjointed, nonlinear fashion. From Kapil's excursion to India to her childhood and her father to the factual lives of the two feral girls to their fabricated futures, there's a lot to juggle with his text. At times the format seems intentionally exclusive, pushing the reader away with obscure, sensory-centered descriptions, yet at other times Kapil is blatant and transparent. Thematically this adds a layer of richness to the text in terms of things that can be known and what is left unknown. Overall, this text is more for the poetically-inclined. If you are able to bounce around timelines and simply enjoy the themes and imagery, then this is for you. However, if you are more like myself you will probably spend an inordinate amount of time trying to construct a sense of linearity; a thing Kapil describes as "brutal" (34).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Helen McClory

    This is a prose-poem hybrid of a novel describing the writer’s journey to India as part of a film crew making a documentary on the true tale of two girls raised by wolves from infancy and recovered, somewhat, into the human fold by a minister who kept them in an orphanage until they died. It is a haunted text, haunted by the lost faces of the girls (apparently never successfully captured in a photograph together, except once, in sleep, entwined in a kind of nest comprised of themselves), the wri This is a prose-poem hybrid of a novel describing the writer’s journey to India as part of a film crew making a documentary on the true tale of two girls raised by wolves from infancy and recovered, somewhat, into the human fold by a minister who kept them in an orphanage until they died. It is a haunted text, haunted by the lost faces of the girls (apparently never successfully captured in a photograph together, except once, in sleep, entwined in a kind of nest comprised of themselves), the writer haunted by their fleetingness, their unreal realness. The texture of the landscape of India adds a weight that the absence of the girls, the unreliability of memory and record lack. “21. Slow, wet orange sun and such a bright full moon over the jungle’s horizon Looking down from the lodge, there are long saffron scratches where the sun has caught a mineral vein. Notes for film: “A girl emerges from a darker space into the upper rooms of the jungle. Blurry photographs/transitions of light.” How does this sentence go into animals? Notes for an animal-human mix: “reaching and touching were the beginning actions.”" Humanimal, Bhanu Kapil. In repetition of colours, yellows, pinks, reds, browns, blues, whites, we have echoes of the bodies of the girls. We have touchstones of familiarity. The attempt is to find out something, not to crudely expose in the manner of a carnival. To probe the experience of being so ‘other’ but human at the same time. Overlap, blurring, membranes. If it sounds unclear, then it is – until the text is read. There is a lot going on, but the words on the page are not deliberately obscure. They are reaching to unite observation, difficult concepts, into art. Details of malnutrition and tangled hair and troubled feeding are not concealed, smoothed away in language, but held up for examination, turned in various directions. In other places, Kapil talks about her childhood, growing up in Britain as an outsider, demarcated by her skin colour, her father’s terrible scars. Humanimal is a short, rich book – one I hope to return to at a later time to re-visit its vivid, yearning nature.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sun Cooper

    I met Bhanu Kapil at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico for an AROHO writer's residency. After sharing space with her, I discovered both her words and presence are weighted with gravitas and glow. I bought this book late one night at cocktails and took it back to my cabin and read through the entire thing, and then I started reading it all over again the next morning. Exceptionally layered, Humanimal: A Project for Future Children is inspired by the true story of two girls "licked" and raised by I met Bhanu Kapil at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico for an AROHO writer's residency. After sharing space with her, I discovered both her words and presence are weighted with gravitas and glow. I bought this book late one night at cocktails and took it back to my cabin and read through the entire thing, and then I started reading it all over again the next morning. Exceptionally layered, Humanimal: A Project for Future Children is inspired by the true story of two girls "licked" and raised by wolves and later discovered and caught up in the sheet of civilized men. Bhanu Kapil cut a hole in that sheet when she trekked back into the Indian jungle with a film crew to document the feral children's story and research their habitat deep in the sal trees, where it is "wet, wet, green, green." Kapil's writing is poignant – subtle in her ability to contrast two worlds and yet write from and lift the reader into some hovering place between. I'm struck over and over by the sharp, controllable lines humans construct into the natural world. And I wonder how many of us would go into the wet, wet, green, green without them?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    At first I expected some sort of anthropological record of these two girls, but Kapil delves in deeper, tying in her own understandings and assumptions to what she can extract from (what seems to be) the little information there is about these girls. Sometimes she acts as if she knows the girls, or has communicated with them in some way other than looking through old text and photographs. Though she puts in stuff about her father, I wish it fit better. She talks so much about the girls, the Reve At first I expected some sort of anthropological record of these two girls, but Kapil delves in deeper, tying in her own understandings and assumptions to what she can extract from (what seems to be) the little information there is about these girls. Sometimes she acts as if she knows the girls, or has communicated with them in some way other than looking through old text and photographs. Though she puts in stuff about her father, I wish it fit better. She talks so much about the girls, the Reverend, and the reseach process that when she talks about her father, I was hoping for a stronger connection. It makes the research seem more personal, in that questioning the girls' family may make her question her own, but also detracts from it in that the connections could have been made clearer. Overall, I enjoyed how Kapil's writing accomplished a blurred line between animals and humans. (describing the mother wolf's role, giving humans animal-like qualities, morphing, etc.)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andy Andrade

    This Kafkaesque journal hybrid, transcribes imagery from incomplete texts, photographs, and scenes that Bhanu witnesses, sometimes from the standpoint of a feral child. The unknown and nightmarish faces of the girls adds to a already obsessive mysticism emanating for the jungle near the orphanage, "All the branches stir in their silver. Like a liquid metal." "Like automata, the trees rise up in rows, mechanically...I didn't know the jungle would be red. (34 Bhanu). Bhanu's abstract double view o This Kafkaesque journal hybrid, transcribes imagery from incomplete texts, photographs, and scenes that Bhanu witnesses, sometimes from the standpoint of a feral child. The unknown and nightmarish faces of the girls adds to a already obsessive mysticism emanating for the jungle near the orphanage, "All the branches stir in their silver. Like a liquid metal." "Like automata, the trees rise up in rows, mechanically...I didn't know the jungle would be red. (34 Bhanu). Bhanu's abstract double view of the jungle continues throughout the journal and advocates the discussion over savage v civilized. Our instincts are in control, the animal within our dreams. Gripped by their fleetingness, Bhanu is stricken by the ferocity of what's inside all humans.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Amazing. I would give this book six stars if I could. Here Bhanu Kapil investigates the true story of the Bengali wolf girls and travels (as Dodie Bellamy says in her blurb on the back) "to the sites of the girls' capture and torturous domestication." Kapil quotes accounts of the wolf girls' lives. She writes passages in their own imagined voices. She tells what it's like to wander their haunts. Kapil folds in her own father's story and notes on her process. The writing is BEAUTIFUL--a mix of jew Amazing. I would give this book six stars if I could. Here Bhanu Kapil investigates the true story of the Bengali wolf girls and travels (as Dodie Bellamy says in her blurb on the back) "to the sites of the girls' capture and torturous domestication." Kapil quotes accounts of the wolf girls' lives. She writes passages in their own imagined voices. She tells what it's like to wander their haunts. Kapil folds in her own father's story and notes on her process. The writing is BEAUTIFUL--a mix of jeweled things and brutality. I think it's great that so much is being written about monstrosity--about the line between human and animal (hence "HUMANIMAL"). This is such a dazzling take.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Tassell

    This was a wonderful piece of work to read; unlike any book of poetry I've read before. I thoroughly enjoyed Bhanu Kapil's double-view of the world of the two Bengali wolf sisters. In one view, Kapil has the voice of and in the other view, she takes on the would-be voice of the Kamala and Amala. The story was compelling and easy to understand, and much more pleasurable to read than some other poetic works. The used of numbers and letters in Humanimal was at times confusing, but I soon figured ou This was a wonderful piece of work to read; unlike any book of poetry I've read before. I thoroughly enjoyed Bhanu Kapil's double-view of the world of the two Bengali wolf sisters. In one view, Kapil has the voice of and in the other view, she takes on the would-be voice of the Kamala and Amala. The story was compelling and easy to understand, and much more pleasurable to read than some other poetic works. The used of numbers and letters in Humanimal was at times confusing, but I soon figured out which applied to each view. Through her writing, it’s as if Kapil knows the girls and was there with them.

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