“Fifteen Dogs” by Andre Alexis


   asteriaiconIt is a new year, and with a new year comes new goals.  My goal this year is to read more, and to post more reviews.  This book was a gift for Christmas, I had never heard of it before.  The copy I received had a Giller Prize Finalist sticker on it, and it was not until I finished it and looked up more information that I found out that it was the Giller Prize Winner for 2015.

  The premise is very enticing.  It takes place in Toronto, where the Greek gods Apollo and Hermes are at the Wheat Sheaf Tavern. The gods are having a beer, and decide to place a wager, one year’s servitude, as to whether or not another species would be as happy (or unhappy) having human intelligence as humans are.  As they leave the bar and are discussing the wager, they walk past a veterinary hospital and provide human intelligence to the fifteen dogs that are staying there. The story follows these dogs as they leave the vet and travel through Toronto to High Park, and sometimes beyond.

  I loved the book! It is a very different book, probably not something I would have picked for myself.  It was a fast read, only about 170 pages, but was so much deeper.  It is easy to make the comparison with the dog’s behavior to that of our own.  Some dogs fear the unknown, some are enticed by it.  Some are born leaders, some are followers.  Some embrace their new found “gift”, and some are against giving up their dog ways they have always known.  It looks at human emotions and experiences; fear, joy, sex, dominance, friendship, and love, all through the lens of a dog.  SPOILER ALERT: As an animal lover, the hardest part about the book is that all of the dogs die.  However, it is the measure in which the gods decide who wins the wager; is the dog happy or not at the point of death.  I was very surprised as to which dog was the last to die, and to how the wager turned out.  It was also neat to read a book that takes place in Toronto, on streets and regions that I have visited and walked.  It added a very real aspect to the book and I felt like I was more apart of the story knowing the areas the dogs called home. The book has a way of sticking with you, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves the idea of Greek gods and animals in a very different, unique light!

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