Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Published: April 14, 2015 by Coach House Books
This book won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize
About the Book: “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.
About the Author: André 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.
About the defense – Humble the Poet: Kanwer Singh, a.k.a. Humble The Poet, is a Toronto-bred MC and spoken-word artist. He began releasing independently recorded tracks on YouTube in 2008, and since then has toured internationally with dynamic live sets that shake conventions and minds at the same time. #LEH and #IVIVI, his collaborations with YouTube star Lilly Singh, have collectively drawn over 15 million YouTube views to date. Humble The Poet has been featured in numerous publications including Buzzfeed, Rolling Stone, MTV, Huffington Post (Canada), The Times of India and WorldstarHipHop.
Why Humble the Poet thinks Fifteen Dogs is the book Canadians need now: If you read this book, immediately the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup, and the Blue Jays will win the World Series, all at the same time. Fifteen Dogs is a really dope book – who doesn’t love dogs?! It explores the cool things, the interesting things and the painful things about what it means to be a human by giving those qualities to 15 different dogs. We learn about ourselves through these different animals.
My initial thoughts: As an animal lover and a big fan of anything related to the Greek gods (I am unashamed to admit I just finished reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians recently!) Fifteen Dogs is another one of the Canada Reads books I have had on my radar for a while. I am a little afraid to read it, too, because I like happy animal stories and I have a feeling this won’t be that. I am also a little confused, because this is a book from 2015, and I thought that the Canada Reads nominees had to be from the year previous.
*With information from http://www.goodreads.com and http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads