Open Throat: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Might seem like a breezy read, but this mountain lion's inner monologue keeps haunting me. I had to take breaks to process this cat's heartbreak like my own. Humiliating. Best character I've ever read. Long live P-22.

— Darcie


One of ELLE's Best Summer Books of 2023. Named a Most Anticipated Book by Buzzfeed and Literary Hub

"Open Throat is a blinding spotlight beam of a book that I was completely unable and unwilling to put down." —Catherine Lacey. "
My favorite book of this century so far." —Andrea Lawlor. "A fantastical, deeply moving, and original adventure." —Brontez Purnell

A lonely, lovable, queer mountain lion narrates this star-making fever dream of a novel.

A queer and dangerously hungry mountain lion lives in the drought-devastated land under the Hollywood sign. Lonely and fascinated by humanity’s foibles, the lion spends their days protecting a nearby homeless encampment, observing hikers complain about their trauma, and, in quiet moments, grappling with the complexities of their gender identity, memories of a vicious father, and the indignities of sentience.

When a man-made fire engulfs the encampment, the lion is forced from the hills down into the city the hikers call “ellay.” As the lion confronts a carousel of temptations and threats, they take us on a tour that spans the cruel inequalities of Los Angeles and the toll of climate grief. But even when salvation finally seems within reach, they are forced to face down the ultimate question: Do they want to eat a person, or become one?

Henry Hoke’s Open Throat is a marvel of storytelling, a universal journey through a wondrous and menacing world recounted by a lovable mountain lion. Feral and vulnerable, profound and playful, Open Throat is a star-making novel that brings the mythic to life.

About the Author

Henry Hoke is an editor at The Offing and a writer whose work has appeared in No Tokens, Triangle House, Electric Literature, and the flash noir anthology Tiny Crimes. He co-created the performance series Enter>text in Los Angeles, and has taught at CalArts and the UVA Young Writers Workshop. He lives in New York City.

Praise For…

"The premise alone makes Henry Hoke's startling achievement worth the purchase . . . Philosophical and heartfelt, Open Throat is the ultimate immersion into the mind of an unlikely protagonist." —Lauren Puckett-Pope, ELLE

"One of the most unique novels I've read in years . . . I didn't know I would feel such attachment to a mountain lion when I started reading, but in Henry Hoke's talented hands, they become an instantly memorable and endearing protagonist." —David Vogel, Buzzfeed

"Singular, stunning . . . [the mountain lion] finds indelible place in readers’ hearts. Hoke’s prose is a joy, as it alternatingly charms with malapropisms and stuns with poetic simplicity. Compassionate, fierce, and bittersweet, this is an unforgettable love letter to the wild." Kirkus (starred review)

"The economical prose reads like poetry, with enjambment in place of punctuation and frequent paragraph breaks. By turns funny and melancholy, this is a thrilling portrait of alienation." Publishers Weekly

"Hoke does a fine job with his highly imaginative material, bringing the cougar to vivid life by giving him a fascinating take on the human world and his place in it. Open Throat is a treat for both animal lovers and anyone who appreciates innovative fiction." Booklist

"I defy you to hear the premise of this sophomore novel from the always-interesting Henry Hoke and not immediately smash that preorder button . . . a playful, poignant, tragicomic delight." Lit Hub

"Open Throat is a blinding spotlight beam of a book that I was completely unable and unwilling to put down. I am not convinced Henry Hoke isn’t a mountain lion." —Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X

"My favorite book of this century so far! I keep putting off writing this blurb because every time I pick up Open Throat I re-read it and fall back in love with this gay-ass big cat and then I have to spend the whole rest of the day thinking about mountain lions and humans and sex and bodies and death and climate change and bad dads and NY v. LA and what is even possible in this world. Henry Hoke is a magician." —Andrea Lawlor, author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

"Open Throat feels like a comic book and a really good one; it feels the inside of animals, specifically one animal, a mountain lion, and with them we desire blood and I can’t tell you how it ends but I love knowing a mountain lion so much. The beauty and tragedy of all of nature is in this character. Open Throat is a fierce writing act. Henry Hoke makes it true." —Eileen Myles, author of For Now

"Open Throat is an instant cult classic and a bloody masterpiece: rhythmically brilliant, heart-wounding, and scathingly funny. I’m in love with a mountain lion and in awe of this book." —Melissa Broder, author of Milk Fed

"In this fantastical, deeply moving, and original adventure--also an unforgettable reckoning with contemporary Los Angeles--Henry Hoke introduces an animal whose life is more than just survival: they are full of longing, regret, memory, sadness, and astute observation. At the core of Open Throat sits a very precious and perishable lesson: survival is not our only job in life." —Brontez Purnell, author of 100 Boyfriends

"Henry Hoke’s narrator is the most credible animal witness to human behavior since Robert Bresson’s Balthazar. Original, fun and completely awakening, Open Throat is a devastating portrait of LA today." —Chris Kraus, author of Social Practices

"Wholly original, inventive, and surprising on every level. Open Throat affirms the capaciousness of the novel as a form. I wish more books took the kinds of chances Open Throat does." —Diane Cook, author of The New Wilderness

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374609870
ISBN-10: 037460987X
Publisher: MCD
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Pages: 176
Language: English