To Leave with the Reindeer cover
Olivia Rosenthal

To Leave with the Reindeer

To Leave with the Reindeer is the account of a woman who has been trained for a life she cannot live. She readies herself for freedom, and questions its limits, by exploring how humans relate to animals. Rosenthal weaves an intricate pattern, combining the central narrative with many other voices – vets, farmers, breeders, trainers, a butcher – to produce a polyphonic composition full of fascinating and disconcerting insights.

Wise, precise, generous, To Leave with the Reindeer takes a clear-eyed look at the dilemmas of domestication, both human and animal, and the price we might pay to break free.

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Print status: Available
Translator: Sophie Lewis
Original language: French
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date (UK): 18 April 2019
Publication date (US): 23 April 2019
ISBN: 9781911508427
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508434
Availability: World
Number of pages: 192


Lucy Dallas
Times Literary Supplement

'Olivia Rosenthal captures the world of the child with inchoate wants and needs, inexplicable to others and herself, in vivid and concise vignettes, against a background of information and opinions about animals and how we treat them – for food, education and, then, to make ourselves feel better after destroying their habitats. This is rich, allusive and evocative.'

Tony Messenger
Review 31

‘Poetic, factual, intimate and clinical.’  

Dundee University Review of the Arts

‘Captivating and strange novel’

Kirkus Reviews

To Leave with the Reindeer offers startling and frequently beautiful ruminations on the way the tension between wildness and domesticity affects both humans and beasts. By eschewing most of the qualities of a traditional novel, Rosenthal's book takes risks that don't always pay off—but when they land, they offer luminous moments.’

Vogue (France)

‘Brilliant, exciting, and never moralizing.’

Elle (France)

‘This polyphonic novel portrays a merciless war waged by humanity on wild nature. This is the battleground where the author tears to pieces today’s education, imposed behaviours and conventions.’


‘Olivia Rosenthal subtly layers short paragraphs, swinging between the daily life of her homo sapiens and clinical statements about animal life. […] This is a novel that will haunts its reader for days. And that will, above all, awake the animal in us.’


‘Apparently lurching, disparate, this novel about domestication in fact coheres, born by a strong rhythmic sensibility and by subtle play on repetition. Poetic and humorous, TO LEAVE WITH THE REINDEER explores our illusions, the destruction of our childhood dreams and the savagery that we hide deep within ourselves.’

Canard Enchaîné

‘In TO LEAVE WITH THE REINDEER, Olivia Rosenthal recounts the painful metamorphosis of an obedient animal into a liberated woman . . . There’s no complacency in this intense work; it is moving in its precision and in the perfect match between voice and subject.’

Les Inrockuptibles

‘ “Tigon, leopon, pumapard, jaglion, tiguar, jagulep, leoger, tigoness, lipard, jagress . . .” Oliva Rosenthal’s book is like the chimerical animals she lists on the first page. It is a hybrid, a strange and disconcerting cross; a sphinx of a book: half-human, half-beast.’

Livres Hebdo, praise for Olivia Rosenthal

‘Book after book, Rosenthal has taken care to dress her iconoclasm in a unique approach made up of stylistic accumulations and shrewd collages.’