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The Animators: A Novel Hardcover – 31 January 2017

4.4 out of 5 stars 140 ratings

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Review

"A wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth . . . That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition, and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heartbreaking, and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Kayla Rae Whitaker's formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page. Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time."--Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

"Unusual and appealing . . . The Animators covers familiar debut-novel territory: the search for identity, the desire for success, the bewildering experiences of small-town misfits leaving home for the bright lights of New York City. But Whitaker turns these motifs on their heads simply by changing the direction of the road and populating it with women."--The New York Times Book Review

"A mix of Beaches, Girls, and Thelma & Louise . . . a 'complicated, ' 'sensual, sexy, ' raw nerve of a 'roller coaster' through a 'tumultuous' friendship . . . If you let this story happen to you, you're gonna love it."--Glamour

"The Animators is inspiring in its freshness and its authenticity, one of the most original and raw books I've read in a long time. I look forward to more Whitaker novels to add to my library."--The Dallas Morning News

"A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators."--Elle

"Smart, funny, and vibrant, beautifully capturing the intricacies of friendship . . . a vital read."--Nylon

"An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love--familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make . . . I wish I'd written The Animators."--Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder

"The Animators is a heartbreakingly beautiful, sharply funny, arrestingly unforgettable novel about love and genius, the powerful obsessiveness of artistic creation, and the equally powerful undertow of the past. Kayla Rae Whitaker writes like her head is on fire."--Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great Man

"[A] tender, lively début . . . [Kayla Rae] Whitaker's nimbly created characters are as vibrant as the novel's title suggests."--The New Yorker

"Abiding friendships . . . are rarely portrayed with such nuance and humor as in this first novel, a nimble comedic turn edged with shadow."--O: The Oprah Magazine

"Memorable, sure-handed, and absorbing."--The Boston Globe

"Brimming with electricity . . . Whitaker has crafted one of 2017's first page-turners."--Paste

"Well-wrought and evocative . . . [Mel and Sharon's] partnership, which is at once fervent and wonderfully unsentimental, gives The Animators its soul."--The Washington Post

"This novel is the holy grail; it's the rare novel that explores and examines the deep friendship and professional lives of two women [and] keeps that focus."--The Baltimore Sun

"Difficult to forget long after finishing the last few pages . . . [This breakout novel] fills a literary gap, which has been waiting for a tale of millennial female friendship and love without tacky genre borders or stereotypes."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"[An] outstanding debut . . . Whitaker skillfully charts the creative process, its lulls and sudden rushes of perfect inspiration. And in the relationship between Mel and Sharon, she has created something wonderful and exceptional: a rich, deep, and emotionally true connection that will certainly steal the hearts of readers."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Unexpected and nuanced and pulsing with life . . . Sweeping and intimate . . . Empathetic but never sentimental; a book that creeps up on you and then swallows you whole."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Kayla Rae Whitaker writes breathlessly and beautifully about the power of deep, true friendship and the ways in which people--and friendships--change over the years. . . . Mel and Sharon jump off the page as real, fully formed characters, and spending time with them is total treat from beginning to end."--BookPage

"[A] stunning debut."--Variety

"Suffused with humor, tragedy and deep insights about art and friendship."--People

"Whitaker captures the human frailties that beset everyone--jealousy, anger, insecurity, trauma, the search for love--and weaves them into a compelling story of friendship, self-destruction, and salvation."--Library Journal

"Visceral . . . utterly compelling . . . with the nonstop tension of a soap opera."--Booklist

"Riveting . . . [The Animators] grabs you by your intestines and doesn't let go."--Interview

"Whitaker's vivid debut traces the lives of friends who bond over their rural Southern upbringings, then become an avant-garde animation duo with a cult following and uncomfortable fame."--Entertainment Weekly

"The Animators is about obtaining escape velocity and the sometimes painful process of claiming ownership of one's story and converting it to art. . . . [It's] nuanced and raw and heartbreaking, true in a way that only the best work of the human imagination can be."--Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

"A grand slam home run . . . You will laugh and cry. . . . Gripping from start to finish."--The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

"A vivid, intensely rendered portrait . . . This bright debut reworks the familiar buddy novel into a story of two young women united by ambition, artistic talent and enterprise."--Sydney Morning Herald

"A wonderful, heart-squeezing story . . . about friendship, family, and facing trauma."--BookRiot

"A beguiling story . . . Whitaker takes us behind the onionskin drawings and slick celluloid, behind the Brooklyn booze and artsy raves, behind the Kentucky white trash and cheap cigarettes to the personal angst and longing that finds some relief in friendship, love and art."--Shelf Awareness

"Every artist must come from somewhere; this is something you try to outrun, even as home fuels the creative engine. The Animators is a novel about a pair of cartoonists, but it's also about the complexity of creative friendship, about balance and jealousy, growing into yourself and living with your talent and trying to actually, impossibly get along in this cracked and unjust world. The result is unapologetic and raucous and compulsively readable; it is potato-chip-friendly and deeply, generously wise."--Charles Bock, author of Alice & Oliver

About the Author

Kayla Rae Whitaker was born and raised in Kentucky. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and of New York University's MFA program, which she attended as a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar. She lives in Louisville. This is her first novel.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House (31 January 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0812989287
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0812989281
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 16.51 x 2.54 x 24.13 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 140 ratings

About the author

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Kayla Rae Whitaker’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, Lenny Letter, and others. She has an MFA from New York University. Her debut novel, THE ANIMATORS, was named one of the best debut novels of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly and one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage.

Learn more at www.kaylaraewhitaker.com.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
140 global ratings

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Reviewed in Australia on 10 September 2017
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Natasha
5.0 out of 5 stars great gift
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 April 2019
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KittyKaty08
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a great book for me
Reviewed in the United States on 20 June 2017
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Nenia Campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark tale of two women who take themselves to the edge for their art
Reviewed in the United States on 16 June 2020
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audie_b
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Lord I loved this book!!
Reviewed in the United States on 23 May 2018
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Crystallinegirl
4.0 out of 5 stars the main character's best friend and business partner
Reviewed in the United States on 19 June 2018
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