Last night the winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize was announced. It went to Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. This $25,000 prize “recognizes Canadian writers of exceptional talent for the year's best novel or short-story collection” as selected by a judging panel.
The book “begins with a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo: “that animals would be even more unhappy than humans are if they were given human intelligence.” This 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 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. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, André Alexis's contemporary take on the moral fable offers a compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness” (http://writerstrust.com/Awards/Rogers-Writers--Trust-Fiction-Prize.aspx).
The Jury’s Citation: “In Fifteen Dogs – André Alexis’ powerful apologue – 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 man’s best friend shows us the benefits of higher consciousness – 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” (http://writerstrust.com/Awards/Rogers-Writers--Trust-Fiction-Prize.aspx).
Fifteen Dogs is also on the Scotiabank Giller shortlist; the winner will be announced next Tuesday, November 10.
For the other four finalists, check my blog of September 29, and for the winners of the other six prizes awarded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada, check out their website: http://writerstrust.com/News/Events-(1)/Writers--Trust-Awards.aspx.