Author(s): Kayla Rae Whitaker
"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
ONE OF THE BEST DEBUT NOVELS OF THE YEAR--Entertainment Weekly
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR--NPR, Kirkus Reviews, BookPage
She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.
In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.
Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel's difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon's home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known--her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy--reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.
A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.
"Suffused with humor, tragedy and deep insights about art and friendship."--People
" A] stunning debut."--Variety
"A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators."--Elle
'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;'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;'[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);'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 Whitaker's formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page and Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time.' - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest;'A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators.' - Elle;'An exquisite portrait of a life-defining partnership ... [The Animators] creeps up on you and then swallows you whole.' - Kirkus (starred review)
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. The Animators is her first novel.