Open Throat by Henry Hoke

Henry Hoke’s Open Throat is outstanding. The book takes place in LA, “ellay” as it’s referred to by the narrator, a queer mountain who inhabits a cave under the Hollywood sign. 

Readers follow the hungry lion as they reflect on their past and now observe the world around them. This is certainly not home, but they have found their chosen family — the homeless group they protect who live in an encampment close to the cave. 

It feels a rare beauty to watch this creature among the background of Los Angeles as they hunt for prey and learn from the people they see from the darkness of their hollow space.

There's that memorable man with the whip and a vein in his neck, those two hikers who speak of therapists in New York, and everyone else who gulps from big water bottles, and taps on their phones.

We feel the lion's loneliness and their need for belonging. Every word feels palpable. 

Cover by Rodrigo Corral

One day a fire started by a hiker at the nearby encampment forces the lion from their home in the hills. It’s here that they reckon with the conflicting feelings of being protected vs. protecting, and nature vs. nurture. 

Does this lion want to eat a person, or become one? 

Hoke’s prose is vivid and emotive, and he has created a creature so unforgettable. When I finished, I immediately wanted to start from the beginning again.

Photo by Macmillan

Henry Hoke is an editor at The Offing and a writer whose work has appeared in No Tokens, Triangle House, Electric Literature, and the flash noir anthology Tiny Crimes. He co-created the performance series Enter>text in Los Angeles, and has taught at CalArts and the UVA Young Writers Workshop. He lives in New York City.

Open Throat is available for purchase in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook format. Check,, and Macmillan for a distributor near you.

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