Rome Zoo

Original title: Le zoo de Rome

Publication Date:

April 2019



Original language and publisher

French | Actes Sud

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

Germany (Lenos Verlag)
Italy (Casagrande)
English (World) (Black Inc)


Literary Fiction

Rome Zoo

Original title: Le zoo de Rome


Inaugurated in 1911, Rome zoo owes its distinctiveness to the boldness of Hagenbeck. First and foremost a merchant, he supplied circus and zoos with wild animals. But Hagenbeck was also one of the first champions of training animals humanely and of zoos without cages. It was from this perspective that he conceived of a new approach to zoological parks in general and to the zoo of Rome in particular.

In this book, the reader is immersed in the history of this extraordinary garden which takes in the story of Raffaele de Vico, the architect who created an aviary reminiscent of an observatory, a Swiss sculptor of genius the pope, and the writer Salman Rushdie… The reader is also introduced to a man and a woman who were destined to meet each other: Giovanna, who has been in charge of marketing at the zoo since 2010, and Chahine, an architect who gives up his day job after being drawn by the strangeness of the buildings which connects with his own eventful past.

Born in 1975 in Basel of a French mother and a Slovakian father, Pascal Janovjak studied comparative literature and art history in Strasbourg and then departed to the Middle East, first to Jordan as a development aid volunteer and then to Lebanon, where he teaches literature at the University of Tripoli. His books include Coléoptères, recueil de poèmes en prose (Samizdat, Geneva, 2007), L’Invisible, roman (Buchet-Chastel, Paris, 2009) and À Toi, récits croisés with Kim Thúy (Liana Levi, Paris, 2011), which has been translated into Slovakian, Serbian and Romanian.

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