An ApologueBook - 2015
An utterly convincing and moving look at the beauty and perils of consciousness.
WINNER OF THE 2015 ROGERS WRITERS'' TRUST FICTION PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2015 GILLER PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE 2015 TORONTO BOOK AWARDS
âe" I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.
âe" I''ll wager a year''s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals âe" any animal you like âe" 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.
AndrÃ© 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.
Fetching praise for Fifteen Dogs:
''[Alexis] devises an inventive romp through the nature of humanity in this beautiful, entertaining read âe¦ A clever exploration of our essence, communication, and how our societies are organized.''âe" 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.'' âe" Publishers Weekly (starred review)
''Fifteen Dogs is an original and vital work written by a master craftsman: philosophy given a perfect form.'' âe" from the 2015 Rogers Writers'' Trust Fiction Prize jury citation
''Truly a privilege to read.'' âe" Wordfest Reviews
''Alexis takes up notions of language and consciousness on a fundamental level, and what it means to have both or one without the other.'' âe" Full Stop
''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.'' âe" The Globe & Mail
''A remarkable book. Insightful, wildly original and beautiful. Buy it.'' âe" Mark Medley, Books Editor at The Globe & Mail
''Alexisâe(tm)s technical skills are extraordinary. His characters are diverse and expertly differentiated, and his sentence crafting is brilliant. ... Iâe(tm)m not ashamed to say that I cried at the end.'' âe" LitReactor.com
''A clever and beguiling study of human nature through the eyes of dogs.'' âe" Largehearted Boy
''A nimble rumination on consciousness, language, love, and art.'' âe" Albert the Dog
The 2015 Rogers Writers'' Trust Fiction Prize jury citation:
''In Fifteen Dogs âe" AndrÃ© Alexisâe(tm) powerful apologue âe" 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 manâe(tm)s best friend shows us the benefits of higher consciousness âe" 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 Giller Shortlist citation:
''What does it mean to be alive? To think, to feel, to love and to envy? AndrÃ© Alexis explores all of this and more in the extraordinary Fifteen Dogs, an insightful and philosophical meditation on the nature of consciousness. Itâe(tm)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, whatâe(tm)s the meaning of life?''
From Library Staff
mallc Nov 29, 2015
This 100% deserved the Giller win. A smart and funny book. Just when you think it's going to break your heart there's a weird dog joke.
From the critics
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In a Toronto tavern, the gods Apollo and Hermes strike a bet. When Hermes wonders what it would be like if animals had human intelligence, his brother Apollo wagers a year’s servitude that the animals—any animals Hermes would like—would be unhappier than humans if given human intelligence. The wager is struck, and fifteen dogs in a nearby animal shelter suddenly gain human consciousness—all while still in possession of their canine urges and instincts. As they develop a new language to convey their transformed understanding of the world, the pack becomes divided between those who embrace the new way of thinking and communicating, and those who wish to resist change at all costs. The gods watch—and occasionally interfere—as the dogs try to navigate this abrupt transition. But will any of them die happy?
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