The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore


Benjamin Hale

576 p.


First,  I want to express my surprise: I read a lot about this book before its publication; it was published about 2 months ago, and I no longer see anything recent said about it, or book blogging about it. It sounds as if it were very quickly dropped.

I am very surprised, as this book is phenomenal; ok let’s put aside what may gross you out, and yes the first sexual graphic scene between Bruno and Lydia is not the best passage of the book.

The writing is fantastic, it’s incredible how the author tried to put himself in the shoes of a chimp and think and write from there; it probably does not make too much sense, but it will as soon as you open the book. It is an incredible reflection actually on what makes you human, and all that makes you human; in that sense, I do believe the sexual encounter needed to be there somehow. I loved very much all that had to do with the importance of language, and the thought process related tot it.
Incidentally, it was also fun following some scenes in Chicago.

I had also to laugh so much on the passage referring to Noam Chomsky. You’ll love it if you know Chomsky, but if you don’t, you won’t even know what Hale is talking about.

The author is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, and just before this book I read All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, written by Lan Samantha CHANG, who directs this same University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. What a team of great writers!


Bruno Littlemore is quite unlike any chimpanzee in the world. Precocious, self-conscious and preternaturally gifted, young Bruno, born and raised in a habitat at the local zoo, falls under the care of a university primatologist named Lydia Littlemore. Learning of Bruno’s ability to speak, Lydia takes Bruno into her home to oversee his education and nurture his passion for painting. But for all of his gifts, the chimpanzee has a rough time caging his more primal urges. His untimely outbursts ultimately cost Lydia her job, and send the unlikely pair on the road in what proves to be one of the most unforgettable journeys — and most affecting love stories — in recent literature. Like its protagonist, this novel is big, loud, abrasive, witty, perverse, earnest and amazingly accomplished. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore goes beyond satire by showing us not what it means, but what it feels like be human — to love and lose, learn, aspire, grasp, and, in the end, to fail. [product description]


Benjamin Hale is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, where he received a Provost’s Fellowship to complete his novel, which also went on to win a Michener-Copernicus Award. He has been a night shift baker, a security guard, a trompe l’oeil painter, a pizza deliverer, a cartoonist, an illustrator and a technical writer. He grew up in Colorado and now lives in New York.


“All real learning, all education is self-motivated. Teaching helps, yes, but teaching students by force, by pushing, is as good as preaching a sermon to a congregation of stones. It is a notably obscene crime of our language that ‘educate’ is not an intransitive verb.”

“In the beginning was word. A word, or the word? Just word, my son, this was a time long before definite articles.”
p. 299



1 thought on “The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

  1. Pingback: My review #44 of: Cutting For Stone « Words And Peace

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