Published by Coach House Books on March 23rd 2015
Buy from IndieBound
It starts with pure curiosity between the gods—if given human intelligence, would animals be more or less happy than humans? The question sparks a bet between Hermes and Apollo, and soon a group of fifteen dogs waiting in a veterinary clinic find themselves capable of higher thinking. The dogs come together in a pack, but struggle to deal with their new found intelligence, perceptions, and language in different ways, while constantly under the watchful eyes of the gods.
Fifteen Dogs has the makings for a mess. It starts with Greek gods in a bar, moves to talking dogs, and tosses in some violence and a heavy dose of philosophy for good measure. But it works. And it works because each of those elements has a specific purpose and place. The framework of the gods helps ease readers into the premise of the novel, making the shock of a talking dog feel less Disney and more Animal Farm. That transition also helps soften the blow of the frequent, sometimes violent, deaths that occur within the pack, as they’re expected in a story questioning happiness at the end of life.
Yet, that question isn’t as simple as the gods expect. It raises other questions about human nature, happiness, and fulfillment, both for the gods and the dogs they watch over. Though still incredibly accessible, Fifteen Dogs will challenge readers to ask themselves the same questions, and may leave them puzzling over the answers.