We Eat Our Own

A Novel

We Eat Our Own

An ambitious debut novel by an original young writer, We Eat Our Own blurs the lines between life and art with the story of a film director’s unthinkable experiment in the Amazon.

When a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York gets the call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon, he doesn’t hesitate: he flies to South America, no questions asked. He quickly realizes he’s made a mistake. He’s replacing another actor who quit after seeing the script—a script the director now claims doesn’t exist. The movie is over budget. The production team seems headed for a breakdown. The air is so wet that the celluloid film disintegrates.

But what the actor doesn’t realize is that the greatest threat might be the town itself, and the mysterious shadow economy that powers this remote jungle outpost. Entrepreneurial Americans, international drug traffickers, and M-19 guerillas are all fighting for South America’s future—and the groups aren’t as distinct as you might think. The actor thought this would be a role that would change his life. Now he’s worried if he’ll survive it.

Inspired by a true story from the annals of 1970s Italian horror film, and told in dazzlingly precise prose, We Eat Our Own is a resounding literary debut, a thrilling journey behind the scenes of a shocking film and a thoughtful commentary on violence and its repercussions.
  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501128318 | 
  • September 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for We Eat Our Own includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Set in 1979 in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest, Kea Wilson’s daring, dazzlingly written first novel pans between the perspectives of very different characters locked on a collision course. At its center is a nameless New York City actor who makes his way to an isolated region of Colombia to join the film as a last-minute replacement. All around him, the film’s all-Italian crew attempt to go about their jobs with little success—and no help from their enigmatic director, Ugo Velluto, who has barred his team from reading the script before they shoot it. (Chilling scenes set months later in an Italian courtroom, interspersed with the present-day action, reveal that Ugo is eventually tried for the murder of his principal actors.) Outside the shoot, in the small town that surrounds the film set, members of a drug cartel, revolutionary guerilla fighters and an unscrupulous American expatriate compete for political control; as the filming progresses and tensions between the filmmakers and surrounding forces escalate, We Eat Our Own reveals how the see more

About the Author

Kea Wilson

Kea Wilson received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where she lives and works. We Eat Our Own is her first novel.