(2011 Man Booker Prize Finalist and Orange Prize Nominee) The 19th century comes vividly alive in this gripping, magical tale of a London street urchin named Jaffy Brown, the U.S. debut for prizewinning British author Carol Birch. After a close call with an escaped tiger, Jaffy goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals. As the years pass, Mr. Jamrach recruits Jaffy and another boy named Tim to capture a fabled dragon during the course of an epic three-year whaling expedition in the East Indies. But when a violent storm sinks the ship, Jaffy and Tim are forced to confront their relationship to the natural world and the wildness it contains.
"For a new salty adventure across the watery part of the world, you won't find a better passage than Jamrach's Menagerie.... [It] will keep you up late and make you feel distracted whenever you have to set it down and leave Jaffy's world behind."—Washington Post
"In Jaffy, Birch has captured a boyish wonder at nature, a fascination with animals that any kid who's ever caught a snake in the woods will be familiar with. As phantasmagoric as the mood of this novel gets, there is nothing in it that steps outside the bounds of reality, for it knows the real world is fantastic enough."—NYTBR
"Birch is masterful at evoking period and place.... Jamrach's Menagerie is itself a teeming exhibition of the beautiful and the bizarre, and its serious ideas about the relationship between mankind and the natural world are communicated with such delicacy of touch that they never slow down the propulsive telling of the story or dim the brilliance of the prose."—Sunday Times (London)