Oxford resident releases novel about chimpanzee and her zoo keepers

By Kaylee Olmsted

All of Oxford resident Lynne Hugo’s 10 novels have to do with moral issues. 

Her latest, “The Language of Kin,” to be released by Blank Slate Press in July, explores different opinions about zoos. 

“This book isn’t funny, like my last two, but I’m really really proud of it,” Hugo said. “It’s among my favorites.”

“The Language of Kin” focuses on a chimpanzee named Eve. Recently relocated to the fictional Dayton, Ohio Zoo, zookeepers Marc and Kate navigate the complexities of communication to learn to work together.

Hugo said her experience working as a therapist has helped her understand human interactions to make her a better writer. She formerly taught at Western College. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and taught hundreds of schoolchildren through the Ohio Arts Council’s Arts in Education program.

Her previous novels have explored trophy hunting, elderly care, drunk driving and baby abandonment. Hugo said she does her best to write “balanced” books that acknowledge both sides of the issue’s arguments. For “The Language of Kin,” she said she did a lot of research and had conversations with experts. 

Hugo said writing helps her wrap her mind around the world around us. 

“I just love words. I love looking up [unfamiliar] words because words represent ideas, and I really love that,” Hugo said. 

More information about Hugo and her books can be found on her website