Artist Projects

God Gave Us the Animals and Jack Sprat's Wife: Two Novels


John McManus

Author John McManus Creative Capital project comprises two novels. One, Jack Sprat's Wife, looks through the eyes of an American reporter at gay refugees in South Africa. The protagonist, Bosie Darling, is an idiosyncratically brilliant journalist who winds up fictionalizing non-fiction stories. A self-styled gay-rights pioneer, he convinces himself that effecting change is good even by means of false reporting, and that he’ll stoke useful outrage. When he’s commissioned to cover Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, he holes up in an expensive Kampala hotel writing a piece of pure fiction that wins an award for non-fiction. As a result, he’s assigned to a project in Cape Town, where his interview subjects cue him into the harm he's doing, his hypocrisy, and the enormity of the problem he’s lied about, even as he lies further to keep the original lies from unraveling.

McManus's second novel, God Gave Us the Animals, is about a millenarian white terrorist in the Smoky Mountains named Obie Mantooth who appropriates Cherokee identity. A self-styled religious genius, Obie invents a violent cosmology with himself at the center. Not only does he indoctrinate his young son Link into his violent worldview, he raises Link in isolation to believe he's Cherokee.