- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Coach House; Sixth Printing edition (April 1 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1552453057
- ISBN-13: 978-1552453056
- Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.2 x 1.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: 193 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Fifteen Dogs Paperback – Apr 1 2015
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"Behold the Dreamers" is an unforgettable debut novel about a family's struggle to make a new life in America from author Imbolo Mbue. Learn more
'[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.'
'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)
'Fifteen Dogs is an original and vital work written by a master craftsman: philosophy given a perfect form.'
―from the 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize jury citation
'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.' ― The Globe & Mail
'A remarkable book. Insightful, wildly original and beautiful. Buy it.' ― Mark Medley, Books Editor atÂ The Globe & Mail
'In Fifteen Dogs – AndrÃ© Alexis’ powerful apologue – questions of knowledge and happiness, fidelity and fate are grounded in the real-world adventures of a group of dogs. Here is a beautifully written allegory for our times: one in which man’s best friend shows us the benefits of higher consciousness – the favoured bone of fact buried where we might all find it. Fifteen Dogs is an original and vital work written by a master craftsman: philosophy given a perfect form.' - The 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize jury citation
'What does it mean to be alive? To think, to feel, to love and to envy? AndrÃ©Â Alexis explores all of this and more in the extraordinaryÂ Fifteen Dogs, an insightful and philosophical meditation on the nature of consciousness. It’s a novel filled with balancing acts: humour juxtaposed with savagery, solitude with the desperate need to be part of a pack, perceptive prose interspersed with playful poetry. A wonderful and original piece of writing that challenges the reader to examine their own existence and recall the age old question, what’s the meaning of life?' - The 2015 Giller jury citation
'fearless ... wildly uninhibited and yet tightly controlled.' - Winnipeg Review
'a tender and elegant exploration of the perpetual problem of human consciousness.' - The National Post
'a wonderfully weird and spare reflection on the nature of dogs and poetry.' - The Times Literary Supplement
'a wildly intelligent, philosophical novel.' - Off the Shelf
'Alexis leaves readers with a glimpse of our better nature.' - World Literature Today
'A novel about a pack ofÂ talking dogs, you say? The very idea will most likely breed thoughts of insufferable whimsy, like those paintings of mutts playing poker, or of more or less effective satire, in the vein of Animal Farm. It’s a grand thing, then, that this spry novel by Canadian AndrÃ© Alexis spends its 160 pages repeatedly defying expectations ... I’m far from being a dog person, but as a book person I loved this smart, exuberant fantasy from start toÂ finish.'
- Jonathan Gibbs, The Guardian
About the Author
AndrÃ© Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. 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 books include Pastoral (nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize), Asylum, Beauty and Sadness, Ingrid & the Wolf, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa and Lambton, Kent and Other Vistas: A Play.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top Customer Reviews
It is a seemingly simple book. But underneath there is an intelligence to the writing choices, a depth that one could chew on for a good long time. (pun intended).
The premise is simple: two gods getting drunk at a Toronto bar (the historical and famous Wheat Sheaf Tavern), debate whether human intelligence leads to happiness or misery. Does the human species’ ability to communicate lead to any true understanding?
“I wonder,” asked Hermes,” what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.”
“I wonder if they’d be as unhappy as humans,” Apollo answered.
The debate ends in a wager: If animals – say dogs – are given the “difficult gift” of human intelligence, will at least one die happy? Fifteen dogs at a kennel are transformed with a blink, and the experiment begins.
A common complaint about this book is that it is depressing. That all of the dogs die. And it's no spoiler to let you know that they do. But I also want to point out that this is the premise of the book. For the wager be seen through, all of the dogs have to die. But does at least one die happy?
I usually yawn when a story is framed by mythological characters. These whimsical powers of divine intervention who stand in for the haphazard banes and boons, twists and turns of life. But Alexis makes them feel like one of us, but with subtle differences. They are used with precision.
Given their newfound intelligence, the dogs figure out how to break out of their kennel. They head off together as a pack, roaming aimlessly. Some miss their owners, others don’t care a blink about them. They find a place to call home in High Park and establish their community.
The dogs are like a mix of humanity. There are the ones of follow convention slavishly, in Frick and Frack. There is the general, Atticus and the poet, Prince. The politician Majnoun, a black poodle. There is the manipulative and smart Benjy, who learns the human speech.
Taking us down to dog-eye-level gives us a very interesting perspective. In this take, dogs have a very keen sense of pecking order. Status is everything. No one wants to be the bottom dog. And yet, the bottom dog serves a very important purpose. When the person at the bottom is gone, the power structure has to re-organize and sometimes that can cause a war within the organization, because no one in the middle wants to move to the bottom.
Alexis gives these dogs much more than the gift of intelligence, but the gift of life. I started looking at dogs on the street differently, feeling their personalities speaking so clearly.
It's also fun that the book is set firmly in Toronto neighbourhoods High Park and the Beaches, mentioning actual streets and icons. I imagine that next summer there will be Fifteen Dogs walks throughout Toronto streets with flocks of literary dog walkers joining in.
If you have a dog-lover reader in your company, this is a sure-fire great gift. As the tale it weaves is so skillfully told, so economical in its application of the writing craft (that is, it’s a short book, such a relief in this age of books that can also be used for weight training), it would make a great gift for writers as well.
I definitely recommend this book.