Swallowing a Donkey's Eye


Farm is the mega-conglomerate food supplier for City, populated with rabidly bureaucratic superiors, and sexually deviant tour guides dressed in chicken and duck suits. City is sprawling, technocratic, and rests hundreds of feet above the coastline on the creaking shoulders of a giant wooden pier. When the narrator’s single mother, whom he left behind in City, falls out of contact, he fears the worst: his mother is homeless and subsequently to be deported under City to the Pier. On his desperate search to find his mother, he encounters ecoterrorists wearing plush animal suits, City’s all-powerful Mayor who is infatuated with magic refrigerators and outlaw campaigns, and an over-sexed priest who may or may not have ESP, but who is most certainly his deadbeat dad.

Whether rebelling against regimented and ridiculous Farm life, exploring the consumer-obsessed world of City, experiencing the suffering of the homeless in Pier, or confronting the secrets of his own childhood, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye’s narrator is a hilarious, neurotic, and rage-filled Quixote searching for his mother, his own dignity, and the meaning of humanity.

Reviews of Swallowing a Donkey's Eye:

There’s a lot of Orwell scattered about, yes, but Aldous Huxley and Douglas Adams are definitely present in spirit, resulting in a delightfully neurotic search for self and humanity in a universe that couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you live or die.
—Corey Redekop
How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've read Paul Tremblay's hysterical comic dystopia, Swallowing a Donkey's Eye? Great characters, sharp dialogue, and a story crazy enough to tell the truth.
—Jeffrey Ford, author of The Shadow Year
Paul Tremblay's Swallowing a Donkey's Eye is a powerful statement, both a scathingly funny black comedy and an unflinching view of a very possible American future.
—Lucius Shepard, author of A Handbook for American Prayer
Swallowing a Donkey's Eye is fine, ribald work. There's a futuristic wackiness and bitterness that reminds me of the best of George Saunders' longer stories. It's brutal and hilarious, and Tremblay's narrator holds it all together with an ironic grimace.
—Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily, Alone and Last Night at the Lobster
Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye follows the lines of Animal Farm, yes, but it's a much more complex, subtle and layered novel that, unlike its inspiration material, addresses a wide array of issues about the zeitgeist, while remaining pleasant and accessible.
A terrific read.
Swallowing A Donkey’s Eye is unlike anything I have read this year . . .
When reading Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, be careful when you let your guard down—know that Tremblay is shaking his left fist, swinging that arm around, forcing your attention over here, so you don’t see what he’s doing over there, and then BAM, the uppercut, sending you sprawling to the canvas.

Other Reviews

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Author Info

Paul Tremblay portrait

Paul Tremblay is the author of The Little Sleep, No Sleep Till Wonderland, In the Mean Time, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and the forthcoming A Head Full of Ghosts. His short fiction and essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times and numerous Year’s Best anthologies. He lives just outside of Boston, and when he’s not writing about narcoleptic private detectives, girls with two heads, or teens who float, he helps administrate the Shirley Jackson Awards.