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December 2, 2016


Adults : About the Book & Author

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About the Book & the Author

About the Book:

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Plume Books, 2014)

Karen Joy Fowler's smart, funny, heartbreaking novel is about a middle-class American family, ordinary in every way except one: Fern, being raised by psychologist parents, is a chimp. Rosemary, the narrator, knows Fern as her sister. Rose begins her story in the middle for a reason: "I was raised with a chimpanzee. I tell you Fern is a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. You're thinking instead that we loved her as some kind of pet. But until Fern's expulsion she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister."

As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then Fern disappeared from the family and so did her brother, Lowell, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves explores memory, family life, childhood, child rearing, what it means to be human.

About the Author: Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of three story collections and six novels, including, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award as well as the California Book Award for Fiction for 2013, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize the first year the prize was open to Americans. She is also the author of The Jane Austen Book Club, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for 19 weeks and was made into a major motion picture. In addition, her novel Sister Noon was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Consistently acclaimed by critics, most of her titles have been New York Times Notable Books and been named to many best-of-year lists.

Fowler is also the co-founder of the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the current president of the Clarion Foundation (also known as Clarion San Diego).

Born and raised in an academic family in Bloomington, Indiana, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in South Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She lived for many years in Davis, California, and now lives in Santa Cruz.

For more information about Fowler, visit

About Seattle Reads

Seattle Reads is designed to deepen engagement in literature through reading and discussion. Seattle Reads We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is made possible by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and The Wallace Foundation, with additional support from media sponsors The Seattle Times and KUOW 94.9 Public Radio, Penguin Random House Library Marketing and The Elliott Bay Book Co.

What has Seattle read in years past?

For details, see Previous Years' Featured Works.

Seattle Reads
2016 Seattle Reads: 'We are all completely beside ourselves' by Karen Joy Fowler
Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library