Abandon Every Hope: Essays for the Dead

Hayley Singer

Abandon Every Hope: Essays for the Dead
Upswell Publishing
3 January 2023

Abandon Every Hope: Essays for the Dead

Hayley Singer

Abandon Every Hope mournfully investigates the literatures of the slaughterhouse and a world motivated by profitable death, to ultimately ask- where does this horror begin and how can it end?

Can anyone smell the suffering of souls? Of sadness, of hell on earth? Hell, I imagine, has a smell that bloats into infinity. Has a nasty sting of corpses. What was it Dante wrote?

Abandon Every Hope is a lament, an elegy, a deranged encyclopedia, and a diary of anxiety. How can anyone document the vastness of violence against animals in a bloated industrial age?

Across a series of essays, Hayley Singer investigates the literatures of the slaughterhouse to map the contours of a world cut to pieces by organised and profitable death. A compelling debut in poetic prose, Singer asks how we may write the life of the dead; the smell of an egg factory; of multispecies PTSD; of planetary harm and self-harm- of the horror we make on earth. Where does the slaughterhouse begin and how can it end?


In Abandon Every Hope, Hayley Singer asks us to sit with our grief and discomfort in the wake of a pandemic, amid global suffering and the horrors of capitalism. She implores us to see and reckon with not just our own suffering but also the suffering of others and our complicity in it. Abandon Every Hope is Singer’s first collection of essays, emerging from years of work and thought around multi-species injustice and activism.

Abandon Every Hope encompasses slaughterhouses, grief, cannibalism, ghosts, shit and suffering. Singer writes with a magnificent intensity, moving between different registers in order to bear witness to the pain and suffering of the slaughterhouse. These essays push against the silence surrounding horror, grief and suffering to shift our perspective on the world, of the machinery of capitalism and our understanding of our own bodies as meat. The sentences take surprising twists, the language drawing together unexpected ideas, suggesting strange, fascinating and horrifying ways to think about the world.

In ‘Bright Unbearable’ and ‘On Red’, Singer follows trails of red and blue, and their shifting patterns of meaning across language and culture. In ‘Cannibal Cafe’ Singer catalogues instances of cannibalism, evoking the ‘meatification’ of human bodies. In ‘Notes On Ghosts’, she welcomes in ghosts as a methodology for searching for the silences in our human culture.

I want to say her writing is a pleasure to read, but pleasure isn’t the right word. Her writing is alive, grotesque and beautiful all at once. These essays are not a comfortable read, but they are not meant to comfort; rather, they bring language and poetry to witness the suffering of animals. Abandon Every Hope appeals to us to witness suffering — our own and especially that of others — rather than remain silent.

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