Fifteen Dogs: An Apologue is a novel by Canadian writer André Alexis. Published by Coach House Books in 2015, the novel was the winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, as well as the 2017 edition of Canada Reads.
First edition cover
|Audio read by||André Alexis|
|Series||The Quincunx Cycle|
|Publisher||Coach House Books|
|March 23, 2015 (eBook)|
April 14, 2015 (Paperback)
|Media type||Print (Paperback) and eBook|
|Awards||2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize|
2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Over drinks at Toronto's Wheat Sheaf Tavern, Hermes and Apollo get into a debate about whether animals could live happily if they had the same cognitive and speech abilities as humans. They decide to wager a year of servitude on the outcome of granting the gifts of human reasoning and language to a group of dogs in a nearby clinic.
Given their newfound abilities, the dogs are able to escape the clinic and make their way to the city's High Park, where they set up their own new protosociety. The novel then explores the functioning of their new society through the impact of human values, such as individuality and personal freedom, on the conventionally hierarchical social order of dog packs. Key characters in the canine society include Atticus, a Neapolitan Mastiff who naturally emerges as the group leader; Majnoun, a black poodle who is reluctant to trust other dogs; Frick and Frack, a pair of Labrador retrievers who are leery about their new reality; and Prince, a mutt who embraces his language skills to become a poet.
The dogs develop their own language, which creates conflict in the pack. Prince becomes a poet and his passion for language is a source of pleasure for him. Some dogs appreciate his use of poetry and wit, but other dogs find it strange and hate it. Majnoun learns to understand and speak English, which forges a bond between him and a human (Nira) as they have long conversations and learn about one another.
The immortal gods Apollo and Hermes are fascinated with mortals on Earth because of their relationship with death. Throughout the book, the reader learns how each dog dies and whether or not the dog died happy. The death plots include murder and euthanasia. The death of humans is also part of the narrative along with how the dogs respond.
The novel includes several poems composed by Prince. At the end, the author includes a "note on the text" where he describes the poetry genre used throughout the novel.
Love and friendshipEdit
Several dogs form friendships (Bella and Athena; Dougie and Benjy) that they experience differently because of their gift of intelligence. Majnoun asks Hermes about love and Prince loves language.
Awards and honorsEdit
- "André Alexis wins 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for Fifteen Dogs". CBC Books, November 10, 2015.
- Deborah Dundas, "Andre Alexis wins Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize". Toronto Star, November 3, 2015.
- Sadaf Ahsan, "André Alexis crowned Canada Reads 2017 winner for Fifteen Dogs, defended by Humble The Poet". National Post, March 30, 2017.
- Chris Young, "'Fifteen Dogs' by Andre Alexis wins 2017 Canada Reads debates", Vancouver Sun, March 30, 2017.
- Keeler, Emily M. (November 13, 2015). "André Alexis's Giller-winning novel throws philosophy to the dogs". National Post. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- Safa Jinje, "Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis: Review". Toronto Star, March 28, 2015.
- "Alexis's Fifteen Dogs wins Scotiabank Giller Prize". The Globe and Mail, November 11, 2015.
- Medley, Mark (November 3, 2015). "André Alexis wins Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 18, 2017.