When a recent grad takes a summer zoo internship, it’s supposed to be a rebel detour before adulthood. But over the summer, the zoo and its humans deliver much more. A story of awakening exploring love, death, biology and privilege, rich with the genius of squirrels, the grace of otters, the gorillas’ need for quiet and the bovine dreams of whitetail deer. Funny, meditative and deeply human, THE WORLD AND THE ZOO is a masterful short novel, carving a delicate path full of breathtaking details.
“Rob Roensch is the Jim Jarmusch of Central Oklahoma zoo-fiction—contemplative and dreamy and in awe of the strange. The World and the Zoo is so carefully observed that the sound of an insect can fill the limits of perception, the sight of a bird’s wing can reconstitute a grackle into something beautiful. This book’s tenderness amplifies the tenderness of being on the outer edge of being young—where nights are wide open and everything seems to be beginning and ending and straining toward the future.” — Benjamin Warner, author of Thirst
“I greatly enjoyed this moving account of a young man who is postponing life after college by spending the summer working at the zoo. His quiet yearning and his alert skepticism are beautifully balanced in this compelling story. The zoo is a rich metaphor for that interlude between phases of our lives. Is the zoo the world or is the world a zoo? Roensch’s writing style is captivating and fresh, with deft description that is both terse and enchanting. This is first-rate writing.” — Bobbie Ann Mason, author of In Country and The Girl in the Blue Beret
Rob Roensch is the author of The Wildflowers of Baltimore, winner of The International Scott Prize for Short Stories, published by Salt Publishing in 2012. He has published short fiction in American Short Fiction, Epoch and elsewhere and posts regularly at Medium. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and two daughters.
“It works like you wouldn’t believe: Roensch’s novel—which follows Zack, a recent college graduate who takes a summer internship at the Oklahoma City Zoo—is so precise in grounding the reader in the here and now of human/animal interaction/observation/care, that you almost lose track of its bigger, more important questions. Almost. Because like his short fiction, his novel is always reaching out and asking: what are the limits of human consciousness? Where are the edges of our empathy? When can we feel the most?…” — George McCormick at Fiction Writers Review
“The white peacock, wandering. The pygmy hippo like an overstuffed suitcase with a mind. The heavy-pawed tiger stalking a child oblivious of her own miraculous safety…” — At Necessary Fiction, Rob’s list of things that didn’t make it in the book