Thursday, July 11, 2013

Eva Hornung's Dog Boy

I've been holding out on you, but that's because I've been travelling and having a tough enough time keeping up with one blog, never mind two. I do have some recommendations for great reading, though, and it's time to share.
I can't stop thinking about Eva Hornung's Dog Boy. This is an important book, so compelling that I'm still thinking about it weeks and weeks after reading it. It touches on so many issues -- human identity, the way we construct and understand animal identities, class relations, homelessness, child welfare and child subjectivity. But even as the novel provokes the reader to confront difficult realities, it entertains in the best tradition of imaginative story-telling, somehow making what first seems an unlikely scenario -- young child raised in a family of dogs -- became surprisingly credible. As we travelled through urban streets in France and Spain, I found myself noticing what seems to be a growing interdependence between the itinerant or homeless and their animals. Hornung's story is set in urban Russia governed by a very specific socio-economic response to recent political history, but it's easy enough to see its wider relevance. And it's absolutely fascinating in how well observed, how convincing, is Hornung's description of animal behaviour, movement, communication, and the way that might shape and be shaped by/into a relationship with a child at the threshhold of inter-subjectivity and language.

Above all, though, the book is a page-turner. It's probably going to be one of the top 3 I'll recommend to other readers this year. If you've already read it, I'd love to know if you agree with my assessment or not; if you haven't, I really believe you have a treat in store -- pick up a copy, and let me know what you think, would you?

*All photos taken by me in Barcelona this past June

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