Mammals, I Think We Are Called

Edge Hill Short Story Prize
Book cover, Mammals, I Think We Are Called, a toy hare looks up into the camera.

Ambitious and playful, darkly humorous and imaginative, these strikingly original stories move effortlessly between the realistic and the fantastical, as their outsider characters explore what it’s like to be human in the twenty-first century. Whether about our relationship with the environment and animals, technology, social media, loneliness, or the enormity of time, they reflect the complexities of being alive. Beautifully written and compelling, you won’t read anything else like them.

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Published by Salt, in their Salt Modern Stories series.


Everything that makes a great short story is here.

– Tania Hershman

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A fantastic collection which contains some of the most startlingly genre-bending stories I think I’ve ever read. My personal favourites are the matter-of-factly sci-fi ‘Everybody Knows That Place’ and the folk horror/ dark comedy/police procedural/ hopeful climate fiction closer ‘Barleycorn’. What a way to end a collection!– Lynda Clark

Lynda Clark, author of Beyond Kidding

I love and admire Giselle Leeb’s prose. These stories are startlingly weird, blackly hilarious, raw and dreamlike. The common thread I think is a breathtakingly of-this-moment sense of alienation–from the natural world, from each other, from a sense of what’s true and what’s deception. But there’s always a shred of hope somewhere in among the disaffection and pain, and that’s what pulls me through the moments of horror. Full disclosure, I was the original publisher of one of these stories, “Wholphinia”, and have for some time been a fan of this author’s style. But I was surprised by the range and breadth of these stories, and in particular was amazed at the poise of “The Goldfinch is Fine”, in which a weatherman gradually loses his mind over an irrational, then increasingly certain terror of rising seas, “Hooked”, in which collective, hallucinatory dreams reunite an isolated city, and “Barleycorn”, in which a mysterious plague of spontaneous hair growth coincides with a hunt for a serial killer. These are challenging stories that invite the reader to engage in unexpected depth.

Michael DeLuca, Editor, Reckoning Magazine

Some people think that good fiction should make you reflect. Others think that a great story should transport you into another world. But what if it could do both? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll find in this new short story collection. Thoughtful, bizarre and fantastical, Mammals, I Think We Are Called is an anthology of true dystopian merit, which leads the reader through a series of stories ranging from the ecological to the technological. Written by Nottingham-based author Giselle Leeb, and published by Salt Publishing, it’s a triumph. 

…Leeb’s work achieves this uncanny Slipstream effect by playing with contrast, and she has a knack for taking the familiar and turning it in on itself, leading the reader into a darker and twisted, but still recognisable, reality. The weatherman who looks for hope in flooding London. The lightning ball that falls onto a coffee shop. The robo-human who is studying ancient history. Throughout the anthology, Leeb succeeds by taking the comfortable things we know, and following them to uncanny and strange ends. 

…Skillfully ambiguous, dark and also optimistic, Mammals, I Think We Are Called is a wonderful contribution to the local literary world. 

Lizzy O’Riordan, LeftLion

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I’ve been waiting for a collection of Giselle Leeb’s short stories for a few years, and it’s just as wonderful as I’d hoped! With wry dark humour and a boundless and inventive imagination, Leeb makes us look at the familiar with fresh eyes, taking us out of our everyday realities to explore everything that makes us human or non-human. From the weatherman in the opening story onwards, you won’t want to put this book down, but you will make yourself because you don’t want it to end. Everything that makes a great short story is here.

Tania Hershman, co-author of A Writers & Artists Companion: Writing Short Stories

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