An utterly convincing and moving look at the beauty and perils of consciousness.
— 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.
Fetching praise for Fifteen Dogs:
'[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)
Praise for André's previous work, Pastoral:
A Globe & Mail Top 100 book of 2014. Nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
'This novel’s pleasures indeed include a rich sense of place, but that sense comes without sentimentality, and that place is something one might just as easily flee from as call home. Pastoral beauty is certainly on offer, but Alexis’ fluid, evocative descriptions of the rural wonders that surround Barrow are much more than nostalgia for a childhood idyll or mere reverie for revere’s sake — they constitute the very heart of Pastoral’s unresolved/unresolvable crisis of faith.'
- National Post
'It’s been clear since his debut novel, Childhood, that Alexis is one of our most distinctive and exacting prose stylists, and at its highest pitch, as in the breathtaking final paragraph, these are sentences that attain the level of the best music.'
- Montreal Gazette
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Just when you think there are no new ideas for stories, you come across something as unique as Fifteen Dogs. Canadian author André Alexis starts with a surprising premise: fickle Greek gods Apollo and Hermes make a bet in a bar that animals would be much less happy if they possessed human intelligence. To settle the matter, they grant 15 canines consciousness and the ability to use language—and sit back to see what happens. We found ourselves completely absorbed by the book’s four-legged characters and charmed by Alexis’ witty fable, winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
This has to be one of the best books that I have read in a while. The story of the dogs is absolutely enthralling, I could barely take myself away from the pages trying to figure out what would happen next.
This is a great book for people who have interest in a modern story, featuring everbody’s favourite pets, dogs, with appearances from various Greek gods and godesses.
Fascinating philosophical journey of self
A great read, especially if you like dogs. The book forces the reader to question what consciousness really means and how drastically different the world can seem from a different perspective.
This book is a wonderful diversion into a very special place.