The Dog

The Dog

Book - 2014 | First edition.
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*** PW s Best of the Year 2014***

The author of the best-selling and award-winning Netherland now gives us his eagerly awaited, stunningly different new novel: a tale of alienation and heartbreak in Dubai.
Distraught by a breakup with his long-term girlfriend, our unnamed hero leaves New York to take an unusual job in a strange desert metropolis. In Dubai at the height of its self-invention as a futuristic Shangri-la, he struggles with his new position as the "family officer" of the capricious and very rich Batros family. And he struggles, even more helplessly, with the "doghouse," a seemingly inescapable condition of culpability in which he feels himself constantly trapped--even if he's just going to the bathroom, or reading e-mail, or scuba diving. A comic and philosophically profound exploration of what has become of humankind's moral progress, The Dog is told with Joseph O'Neill's hallmark eloquence, empathy, and storytelling mastery. It is a brilliantly original, achingly funny fable for our globalized times.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780307378231
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 241 pages ; 24 cm.


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Jan 07, 2016

A book with a very strange plot. I was never pulled in to the story and were the book not so short (241 pages) I likely would have given up and looked for something else to read.

Mar 16, 2015

I kept waiting for the plotline of the story to become clear, but after having got 3/4 of the way through the book i was ready to give up and not any clearer as to where the storyline was headed. Long winded and disappointing.

Cynthia_N Mar 01, 2015

Odd book that never really pulled me into the story.

LIKETOREAD2 Jan 07, 2015

I thought the writing was excellent; O'Neil has a way of taking an ordinary thought and expressing it in such a way that it becomes an art form. Some of his sentences are 12 lines long; long-winded, yes, but a fascinating use of language.

On the flip side, I think "The Dog" is more of a man's book. There are some references to some of X's bodily functions and habits that I would have preferred not to have read.

manoush Dec 14, 2014

This is a strangely compelling, even hypnotic story. On the face of it, the premise seems very unpromising material for a novel. A middle-aged lawyer, known only by the first initial of his first name, X., flees a failed office romance in New York City for Dubai. He takes up a dubious job as the legal adviser to a venal Lebanese billionaire family, where he's essentially their bitch (hence the book's title). Working for them puts X. in all manner of degrading situations, and some of the funniest, laugh-out-loud parts of the novel describe X.'s encounter with the family patriarch and his two dysfunctional, corpulent, shallow sons.

Out of this thin material O'Neill creates an extremely engaging character. He's a person who's constantly thinking, constantly turning things over in his mind, not content to just follow the herd. The prose constantly switches between deadly legal language, deep philosophical thoughts, and hilarious colloquial expressions. This multi-toned writing is part of the strange and unique charm of The Dog. It's unlike any fictional prose I've read in a while. For some readers it'll perhaps be boring and longwinded, but for patient readers with a taste for ruminative writing, it's a delight.
The author is particularly good at challenging orthodoxies of both the right and left. There are some priceless, acid descriptions of Western expats in Dubai, with their smug, unearned sense of entitlement and open racism. But O'Neill reserves equal criticism for the left's knee-jerk condemnation of Dubai and outrage at the condition of foreign workers there. He slams such self-righteous tut-tutting as "nothing more than opportunistic moral hedonism."
The adjective "haunting" is overused to describe works of art that have a magnetic pull and refuse to leave you for days afterward. But The Dog truly is haunting, holding you from the very first paragraph describing X.'s hobby of deep sea diving and lulling you into the troubled, fertile psyche of its tragic narrator.

jpagani08 Sep 22, 2014

Yuck. I'm afraid I don't see the qualities that published reviewers see. I found the book offensive, bigoted and just not particularly amusing, contrary to the opinion of the reviewers. In addition, I found the portrayal of this "average New Yorker" unbelievable.


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