T.C. Boyle

Cindy Seip

T.C. Boyle, distinguished professor of English at the University of Southern California, has published 14 novels and 10 collections of short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award for World’s End: A Novel, and the Prix Médicis étranger for The Tortilla Curtain, as well as a Henry David Thoreau award for excellence in nature writing. In Talk to Me: A Novel (Ecco), when animal behaviorist Guy Schermerhorn demonstrates on a TV game show that he has taught Sam, a young chimp, to speak in sign language, Aimee Villard, an undergraduate at Guy’s university, is taken with the performance and applies to become his assistant. A romantic and intellectual attachment soon morphs into an interspecies love triangle that pushes hard at the boundaries of consciousness and questions what we know and how we know it. What if it were possible to speak to members of another species and exchange ideas, and have a meeting of minds? Do apes have God? Do they know about death and redemption? Do they have dreams? In this wide-ranging and hilarious tale, Boyle explores what it means to be human, communicate with another, and truly know another person or animal. Booklist noted that “Boyle poignantly exposes our anthropocentric biases while exploring the nature of consciousness and reminds us of the adage about the most dangerous species in the zoo being the humans.”