Home Ground and Foreign Territory reaches out far beyond the scope of early Canadian literature. Its multi-disciplinary approach innovates literal studies and appeals to literature specialists and general readership alike.
Finalist for the 2015 Toronto Book Awards
Winner of the 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
"[Alexis] devises an inventive romp through the nature of humanity in this beautiful, entertaining read … A clever exploration of our essence, communication, and how our societies are organized." – Kirkus Reviews
"This might be the best set-up of the spring." – The Globe & Mail
"André Alexis has established himself as one of our preeminent voices." – Toronto Star
— I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.
— I'll wager a year's servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.
And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo 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, preferring the old 'dog' ways, 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. 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.
André Alexis's contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.
André Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His other previous books include Asylum, Beauty and Sadness, Ingrid & the Wolf and, most recently, Pastoral, which was also nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was named a Globe and Mail Top 100 book of 2014.
This book strikes the right balance between intimate accounts and literary analysis. It opens with reminiscences by close friend Eleanor Wachtel, which are followed by a study of Shields’ poetry by her daughter and grandson, then by various aspects of her fiction, including a detailed examination of her plays. It closes with reminiscences by four close friends: Jane Urquhart, Joan Clark, Wayson Choy and Martin Levin.
The 23 contributors offer new insights, new theories, and new perspectives about Shields’ illuminating career. Only one piece—her obituary written by Margaret Atwood—has been previously published.
In her writing, Mrs. Moodie repeatedly explores the position of women in nineteenth-century society. She was profoundly influenced by her family s early misfortune and consequent fall from gentry status, her gender, and her husband's decision to emigrate to Canada. These concerns recur with such frequency and insistence in the narratives collected here that it becomes impossible to doubt the importance of them in her life and in her writing out of that fife. Most of the stories are concerned with emigration, and are set in the country from which emigration takes place or is contemplated. Financial disaster and loss of social status are the causes of emigration for characters in "The Vanquished Lion," "The Broken Mirror," and many of the other narratives.
This collection will be of interest to those who wish to understand more fully Roughing It in the Bush, the problems of class and gender as they affect writers, and the difficulties of immigrants in a developed colonial society. It will also be of interest to those seeking to understand the development of short fiction or those who simply like reading it.