Seven Animals Bite Back

A Modern-Day Bestiary

Frank Westerman

Seven animals hold up a mirror to our species. The lemming, the narwhal, the eel, the brent goose, the polar bear, the reindeer and the king crab. Against the backdrop of the melting polar ice caps, they lead the reader through a series of installments about adaptation, life and death. Each species sheds its own light on global warming and on its culprit, homo sapiens.

From the 16th century onwards, European naval explorers have searched for the Northeast Passage – to China and Japan. In 1596, the Dutch navigator William Barentsz, who lent his name to the Barents Sea, died during an expedition on Nova Zembla. Today however, due to the recklessness of some eight billion earthlings, the Arctic seas are clear of ice in the summer. In August 2014, a Chinese freighter sailed for the first time around Siberia without the help of an icebreaker.

This is a contemporary logbook, loosely based on the original account of Barentsz’s three polar voyages. The focus is not on the sufferings of the crew who had to overwinter in a makeshift hut built from their shipwrecked vessel, but on the (arctic) animals they encountered. Hence the subtitle: a bestiary.  Together, these seven intermeshing stories form the cogs of an urgent climate book. The author’s curiosity prompts him to uncover connections, raise unexpected questions and even run up against the cliffs of personal, existential doubt.

‘Frank Westerman enchants readers with his fascinating leaps of thought, his mixture of science, history, travel and memories. He creates a unique new literary genre around seven special animals from the far north.’ Louise Fresco‘

Beastly good! An ode to curiosity, a dizzying journey of discovery far above the Arctic Circle.’ Olaf Koens


  • Querido Fosfor, Netherlands

Material: pdf of Dutch edition (May 2024)