Front cover of Zoo World: Essays by Mary Quade, featuring an image of a wheel-shaped styrofoam container with a green snake coiled at its center.

Zoo World


Mary Quade

208 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

Pub Date: September, 2023

Subjects: Creative Nonfiction

Series: The Journal Non/Fiction Prize

Imprint: Mad Creek

Order Paperback $21.95 $17.56 Save 20% and get free shipping  ISBN: 978-0-8142-5877-4
Order PDF ebook$19.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8295-3

Read an interivew with Mary Quade in Belt Magazine.

Read an interview with Mary Quade in InsideHook.

“An illuminative collection of essays.” —Barbara McIntyre, Akron Beacon Journal

“Readers familiar with Quade’s two poetry collections … will not be surprised to experience a sense of wonder in Zoo World … The insatiability of Quade’s curiosity allows Zoo World to ask, from a point of view no less wise than it is quirky, how the local and the global affect one another these days … It is a way of being in a world incomprehensibly bigger than oneself, a way of being that is shaped by humility and generosity, a way of being that I for one find admirable and edifying.” —H. L. Hix, EcoTheo Review

“These passionate, nuanced environmentalist essays are perfect for Barbara Kingsolver fans.” —Rebecca Foster, Shelf Awareness

“Quade, a poet and creative writing instructor, presents a mixture of travel memoir, philosophical meditation, and environmental ethics class, pondering the many ways she and all of us walk through the world.…A pocket adventure for environmentalists and those who enjoy meditative writing.” —Kirkus

“Mary Quade is like a girl-guide transcendentalist. She has an unquenchable thirst for natural history—ducklings, milkweed, snake farms—and an unflinching eye for environmental crime. In prose that is like fleshed-out poetry, she elevates the humble and brings great concepts down to earth. Whether at home in Ohio or on an adventure in Michoacán, Vietnam, or the Galápagos, Quade is excellent company. Zoo World is a book to savor.” —Mary Norris, author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

We contain the elements of our world in archives, boxes, collections, mausoleums, history books, and museums, trying to stave off their eventual disappearance from our memory and from the earth in a futile attempt at redemption for our violence against them. In Zoo World, Mary Quade examines our propensity for damage, our relationships with other species, our troubling belief in our own dominion, and the reality that when you put something in a cage, it becomes your responsibility. Her subjects are as eclectic as mallard ducks, ancient churches, monarch butterflies, classrooms, tourism, street markets, zoos, and dairy cows and as global as migration, war, language, and climate change. Whatever the topic at hand, Zoo World considers how our stewardship of the earth and one another falls short, hoping that a more humble understanding of our place on the planet might lead not only to our mutual survival but also to the extinction of our hubris as human beings. Replete with Quade’s lyrical and observational gifts and refusing to let any of us off the hook in the name of inspiration or comfort, these essays are a fresh take on travel and nature writing, pushing both in thrilling new directions.

“In these stunning and urgent explorations, largely about the (im)balance between the human and nonhuman worlds, Quade writes with the precision of a researcher, the lyricism of a poet (which she is), and a selfless compassion. This extraordinary menagerie of essays is not to be missed.” —Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences

“Mary Quade is a collector—of insects and injured ducks, of images and memories and facts. Whether wandering a zoo in Vietnam, a beach by Tortuga Bay, some industrial no-man’s-land in Cleveland, or her own backyard, she gathers into her sentences a great many bright and broken findings that, arranged into these artful essays, lovingly illuminate this bright and broken world.” —Donovan Hohn, author of Moby-Duck and The Inner Coast

“A wild ride of a book about the animals in whose midst we live, the animals we eat, and the animals we are—taking us swiftly round the curves and hauling us up each steep ascent before the exhilarating, inevitable plunge that follows.” —Michelle Herman, The Journal Non/Fiction Prize judge and author of Close-Up

Author Photo

Mary Quade is the author of the poetry collections Guide to Native Beasts and Local Extinctions. A graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is a recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship and four Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards for both poetry and creative nonfiction. She teaches creative writing at Hiram College.



The Box

The Collection

Project Monarch

Songs of the Humpback Whale

The Galápagos Shooting Gallery


Zoo World

In the Classroom


Paradise, Earth

Fonoteca Nacional: Memoria de Otro Tiempo Sonora, Coyoacán, Mexico City


In Harmony with Nature

Steel: Products of Cleveland




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