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An Evening with Alastair Sawday

20th October, 2021, Steyning Cricket Club

Fifteen Dogs

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A quite extraordinary contemporary take on the ‘apologue’ (a moral fable with animal characters) by a Toronto-based Trinidadian author, ‘Fifteen Dogs’ begins in a bar, like so many strange stories. The gods Hermes and Apollo, drunkenly arguing about what would happen if animals had human intelligence, make a bet that leads them to grant consciousness and language to a group of dogs staying overnight at a veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of complex thought, the dogs escape and become a pack.

They are 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 unfamiliar territory, 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.

Engaging and strange, full of unexpected philosophical insights into human and canine minds, yet moving and with an easy flow, this is the most unusual book you’ll read this year.