"The First Word" by Christine Kenneally

The book is so well written it stands with '1491' and 'Seven Daughters of Eve' as one of the deepest wells of knowledge drilled into literature during the past two years. Here's a snippet:

Heidi Lyn recounted what happened the day that Sue Savage-Rumbaugh told the bonobo chimpanzee Kanzi to put water on a carrot. The ape threw the carrot outdoors. Thinking that Kanzi had misunderstood, Savage-Rumbaugh repeated the request. In response, Kanzi pointed vigorously outside. It was raining.

Fab book. Subtitled "The Search for the Origins of Language," the book manages the remarkable feat of portraying genius Chomsky as a bit of a philistine boor while making the reader grasp how miraculous language is, even if its provenance is so slightly understood.