Animal Joy by Nuar Alsadir review – is laughter the best medicine?

Joining the dots between Ali G and Nietzsche, the poet and psychoanalyst’s unguarded exploration of laughter will leave readers enlightened and emboldened

An outburst of laughter, Freud maintained, is an eruption from the unconscious. It’s a belief that American psychoanalyst and poet Nuar Alsadir sets about unpacking in Animal Joy, her ruminative interrogation into the might and meaning of this vital mode of human communication. Understanding it better, she suggests, can open us up to a less constrained, more spontaneous experience of the world around us.

Splicing sometimes dense academic theory with provocations drawn from the fraught years of the Trump presidency as well as from her own personal and professional life, she covers topics as diverse as the equalising properties of a New York subway car, the Brett Kavanaugh supreme court confirmation hearings, and computer viruses as “a form of art and a form of prophecy”.

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