Following the publication last August of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, there has been much debate concerning the merits of big, Dickensian works. The underlying question is simple: can rather traditional novels continue to do new and exciting things? Benjamin Hale’s debut, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, is just such a work; and, in short, the answer is yes.
Here’s the premise: Bruno Littlemore, a chimpanzee born in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, is the first non-human being to gain language. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is, ostensibly, Bruno’s memoir, dictated from where he sits in captivity for the murder of a man.