Wolves abound through cultural folklore and through literature – vilified and venerated in equal measure. In Wolfish, Erica Berry examines these depictions, alongside her own research of the wolf for nearly a decade, to get to the heart of what our stories about the wolf reveal about our relationships with one another and ourselves: 'What does it mean to want to embody the same creature from which you are supposed to be running?'
The wolf is so often depicted as the male predator, preying on the vulnerable girl/woman who strays from the path; the she-wolf meanwhile depicts women who sit outside the accepted boundaries of feminine behaviour. Berry openly recounts her own uncomfortable and sometimes frightening experiences as a woman to try to understand how we navigate our fears when threat can seem constant.
Through it all, Berry finds new expressions for courage and survival: how to be a brave human and animal member of our fragile, often dangerous world.
Erica Berry is a writer based in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA from the University of Minnesota, where she was a College of Liberal Arts Fellow. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, New York Times Magazine, Yale Review, Outside Magazine, Catapult, Atlantic, Guernica and elsewhere. Winner of the Steinberg Essay Prize and the Kurt Brown Prize in non-fiction, she has received fellowships and funding from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Tin House, the Ucross Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources. A former Writer-in-Residence with the National Writers Series in Traverse City, Michigan, she is currently a Writer-in-the-Schools with Literary Arts in Portland.
"I devoured every startling, lyrical, haunting, yet all-too-familiar page of Wolfish. Such a stunning achievement, it left me feeling like one of the pack"
– Elizabeth Rush, author of Rising, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
"An exhilarating book – intricate, thoughtful, and thick with connections"
– Megha Majumdar, New York Times bestselling author of A Burning
"Erica Berry's Wolfish is a marvel: a beautiful piece of work as wide-ranging as it is precise. Berry's keen eye and fresh, startling prose are not only an excellent guide to nature and the world around us, but also to what our reactions to the landscape tell us about ourselves, what we fear and who we might become. You won't want to miss this"
– V. V. Ganeshananthan, author of Love Marriage, longlisted for the Women's Prize
"Elegant and elegiac, Wolfish asks how we live alongside, and honour, both the wilds we do such harm to and the fears that run wild within us. Erica Berry beautifully weaves literature, science, philosophy, history, and her own memories to deconstruct millenia of myth-making around wolves, urging a return to something even more powerful than the tales we've spun: untangling the creature from our fear, to better understand both it and ourselves. This is a book composed of what humanity has made, yes, but above all it's a gorgeous reminder that we, too, are part of nature"
– Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body
"The space between humans and wolves is filled with stories, from fairy tales to family histories to our own fears and desires. With courage and insight, Erica Berry illuminates this tangled territory, inviting us to explore it for ourselves"
– Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts
"Wolfish starts with a single wolf and spirals through nuanced investigations of fear, gender, violence and story. A gorgeous achievement"
– Blair Braverman, author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube
"Insightful and gorgeously written, Wolfish shows us that stories we tell about predators and prey are always about more than they seem. This exploration of violence and vulnerability never stopped surprising me"
– Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites
"I can't stop talking about Erica Berry's debut Wolfish – it is a passionate and personal portrayal of the wildness in the world and in ourselves. This is a fierce book and an important one. With compelling and lyrical prose that reveals a depth of knowledge and research, Berry looks not just at wolves but the wolf nature in all of us and around us – asking us important questions about fear and identity and our relationship to the natural world. She spins out connections between the natural world and the self that are both important investigations and insightful revelations. Wolfish is a triumph of a debut – cementing Berry as an important new voice"
– Lyz Lenz, author of Belabored and God Land