Josephine Rowe’s ‘A Loving, Faithful Animal’

Young Australian author Josephine Rowe’s A Loving, Faithful Animal, published by The University of Queensland Press (UQP).


It is New Year’s Eve 1990, and Ru’s father, Jack, has disappeared in the wake of a savage incident. A war veteran, he has long been an erratic presence at home, where Ru’s allegiances are divided among those she loves. Her sister Lani seeks to escape the claustrophobia of small-town life, while their mother, Evelyn, takes refuge in a more vibrant past. And then there’s Les, Jack’s inscrutable brother, whose loyalties are also torn.

Through the beautifully realised voices of Ru and her family, Josephine Rowe tells a powerful story of growing up, of challenging fate, and of the scars left behind by those we love. The novel began life as a short story – a young girl struggling to understand her father’s disappearance – but as Rowe wrote, it became apparent how much of the action fell outside the depth of understanding of the 12-year-old protagonist. From this jumping-off point, Rowe began to interrogate the story from the perspectives of all involved.

A Loving, Faithful Animal is a closely observed and deeply atmospheric portrait of one family searching for what may yet be redeemable from the ruins of the past. In the vein of What the Family Needed, by Steven Amsterdam, and Evie Wyld’s All The Birds, Singing, this is a hypnotic novel by one of Australia’s brightest talents.


Josephine Rowe is an Australian writer of short fiction, poetry and essays. Her story collections include How a Moth Becomes a Boat and Tarcutta Wake, which was longlisted for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Iowa Review, Best Australian Poems, Best Australian Stories, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Five Dials, Australian Poetry Since 1788 and Harvard Review. She is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University.

Last updated:
30 March 2016