“Fingeryeyed” Description: Laboratory Animals and Transspecies Empathy in VanderMeer and Yanagihara


This article explores the potential for description to produce in readers a sense of transspecies empathy. Rather than focusing on animal narration, I consider description as a disruptive “material power” (Hamon 25; Rodriguez 4). Focusing on Jeff VanderMeer’s The Strange Bird (2017) and Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees (2013), this article argues that synaesthetic, or what Eva Hayward calls “fingeryeyed,” description challenges notions of animals as passive scientific equipment; instead, in both texts, animals emerge as object-agents who shape the descriptions and engage readers (Stewart 33).

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