Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
Published by: Coach House Books on April 14th, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Canada, Fantasy, Philosophy, Animals
Source: Borrowed from the library
Summary (from Goodreads): ” I wonder”, said Hermes, “what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.”
” I’ll wager a year’s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.”
And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change.
The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks.
André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.
Review: I went into this book not knowing anything about it. I just saw that a lot of people were reading it on public transport and that it was getting literary attention and awards. So, I picked it up and it wasn’t what I expected at all.
I didn’t expect the book to be in the perspective of dogs. It was an interesting concept dogs given knowledge from these Gods. Each of their lives were tragic and none of them had happy endings. There were small moments of hope, but alas, nothing good ever came of it. I didn’t like the animal brutality and the amount of death that occurred.
Like I said, it was an interesting concept, and it was nice having a book set in Toronto where I could picture exactly (the author literally tells you every single street the dog(s) walk and turn down) where the dogs were at the time. It was well written and I can see it being a book used in English classes.
I don’t think that I will read this again. Nor would I really recommend the book to anyone who hates to read about dogs being mistreated via other dogs or humans.