Reviewed by Nachiketa Rai
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is a memoir of an unlikely celebrity, a chimpanzee.
But he is not an ordinary chimp but one who pushes the boundary of intelligence to foray into the realm of Homo sapiens. Benjamin Hale weaves a fantastical fiction where the protagonist, Bruno, fast-forwards the Darwinian theory and evolves into a cognitive being in just a lifetime. The narrative is an acerbic commentary on the sad state of being that human life has come to be and the rationality that has robbed the human beings of their intuitive tools. Bruno is funny, unpredictable, clever and with an indomitable primal survival instinct. Under the garb of an outsider, he rants against everything that is wrong in the human world but yet lured by the luxuries of human life, yearns to forever make it his own, even vainly wanting and getting a nose job done.
In parts the story meanders into immaterial descriptions of events and characters that become tedious but are rescued by the craftsmanship of the writer. The issues addressed lack some imagination. In the end, a mutant chimp seems more competent than the human beings in the novel to endure in the man-made world.
There are implications, which have the potency to be deemed as controversial. In his debut novel, Hale has definitely proved that he is one writer to be looked forward to. A reading of this work is recommended.