This past Tuesday, the winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced: André Alexis for Fifteen Dogs. The book is a modern-day parable about what happens when 15 dogs in a Toronto veterinary clinic are given human consciousness.
The book, which also won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award last week, “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” (http://writerstrust.com/Awards/Rogers-Writers--Trust-Fiction-Prize.aspx).
Of his novel, the Giller jury wrote "What does it mean to be alive? To think, to feel, to love and to envy? André Alexis explores all of this and more in the extraordinary Fifteen Dogs, an insightful and philosophical meditation on the nature of consciousness. It's a novel filled with balancing acts: humour juxtaposed with savagery, solitude with the desperate need to be part of a pack, perceptive prose interspersed with playful poetry. A wonderful and original piece of writing that challenges the reader to examine their own existence and recall the age old question, what's the meaning of life?" (http://www.cbc.ca/books/2015/11/who-will-win-the-2015-scotiabank-giller-prize.html)
Check my blog of October 5 for brief summaries of the other four books on the shortlist.