Taylor Brown on “Rhino Girl”

taylorbrown481-225x300Taylor Brown is such an accomplished novelist that sometimes we forget it was his short stories that grabbed our attention in the first place.

Luckily, The Rumpus is here to remind us of Taylor’s short-story chops!

Follow this link to read Taylor’s riveting story,  Rhino Girl


I asked Taylor to tell us what inspired such an intense and powerful short story. Here’s what he said:

I’m a big animal-lover, and they always seem to turn up in my work.  I think I wanted to write a story about what would happen if we valued other species as highly as our own–or at least, if a character did. 

The inspiration for the main character, Malaya, came from a 2015 article about an Army veteran who was serving with an anti-poaching unit in Tanzania.  The elephant and the rhino are both facing extinction–some scientists give them each only a decade–and the poaching of these animals for ivory and horn is a major cause.  My hope was to explore that issue without getting political.

The ultimate power plays in the story were informed, at least partly, by Hemingway’s “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber”–a story I both love and hate.  In some subconscious way, I think “Rhino Girl” is my response to that work.

This story is the beginning of a larger project I’ve been working on.  “The Lioness,” the second chapter in the story, is forthcoming in the Sycamore Review.”

Taylor Brown’s second novel, The River of Kings, will be published by St. Martin’s Press March 2017.


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