Required Reading 4 Dog Lovers

If you love dogs, you’ll really enjoy André Alexis prize winning novel Fifteen Dogs. I received it as a Christmas present, but wasn’t in the mood to read it until recently. I’ll warn you parts of it are violent, but overall it’s a compelling perspective of how dogs interpret and interact with humans.

From the review by the Globe & Mail : Fifteen Dogs begins at a Toronto tavern where Hermes and Apollo, well into their cups, make a bet. The gods decide to imbue a handful of animals with human intelligence and linguistic skills. Should any of those animals meet their end happier than they would have otherwise, Apollo must provide Hermes with a year’s servitude. If, as Apollo asserts, human intelligence is, at best, “an occasionally useful plague,” certain to cause more misery than contentment, Hermes will then become Apollo’s servant. Stumbling past a veterinarian’s clinic, the gods select 15 pooch patients as the hapless subjects of their wager. Over the course of this novel, slim yet epic in scope, Alexis chronicles the fates of these strangely afflicted beasts, shifting from thought experiment to comic parable to something more delicate, laden with detail, discovery and emotional nuance.”

Chloe Cushman

Illustration by Chloe Cushman

Alexis also employs a poetry technique ‘Poem for a dog’ created by François Caradec,  That is, in each poem the name of a dog will be audible – to the listener or to the dog – if the poem is said aloud, though the name is not legible. I have yet to decipher all the poems in the novel.

Until now Racing in the Rain was my favourite canine read, if you have other recommendations let me know!

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