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Fifteen Dogs
Cover of Fifteen Dogs
Fifteen Dogs

— 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.'[Alexis] devises an inventive romp through the nature of humanity in this beautiful, entertaining read ... A clever exploration of our essence, communication, and how our societies are organized.' — Kirkus Reviews'Alexis manages to encapsulate an astonishing range of metaphysical questions in a simple tale about dogs that came to know too much. The result is a delightful juxtaposition of the human and canine conditions, and a narrative that, like just one of the dogs, delights in the twists and turns of the gods' linguistic gift.' — Publishers Weekly, starred review

— 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.'[Alexis] devises an inventive romp through the nature of humanity in this beautiful, entertaining read ... A clever exploration of our essence, communication, and how our societies are organized.' — Kirkus Reviews'Alexis manages to encapsulate an astonishing range of metaphysical questions in a simple tale about dogs that came to know too much. The result is a delightful juxtaposition of the human and canine conditions, and a narrative that, like just one of the dogs, delights in the twists and turns of the gods' linguistic gift.' — Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • André Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His debut novel,Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His other previous books include Asylum, Beauty and Sadness, Ingrid & the Wolf and, most recently, Pastoral, which was also nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was named a Globe and Mail Top 100 book of 2014.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 23, 2015
    "One evening in Toronto, the gods Apollo and Hermes" decide that the only way to determine whether human intelligence contributes to happiness is to grant it to 15 dogs and see whether they die happy. This audacious beginning of the latest novel from Alexis (Childhood, winner of the Books in Canada First Novel and Trillium Book Awards) places the book firmly in the ancient tradition of stories about the immortal gods placing wagers on mortal activity. The gods' interference allows Alexis to neatly sidestep potential criticism that he has anthropomorphized, sometimes leveled at works that try to imagine the inner lives of animals, while he ruminates on aspects of human society including political structure, the nature of dominance, the role of the weak, religion, authenticity and performativity, love, and art. Clearly familiar with canine behavior, Alexis manages to encapsulate an astonishing range of metaphysical questions in a simple tale about dogs that came to know too much. The result is a delightful juxtaposition of the human and canine conditions, and a narrative that, like just one of the dogs, delights in the twists and turns of the gods' linguistic gift.

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    Coach House Books
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Fifteen Dogs
Fifteen Dogs
André Alexis
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