Fifteen Dogs by ANDRE ALEXISFifteen Dogs by ANDRE ALEXIS

Fifteen Dogs

byANDRE ALEXIS

Paperback | April 1, 2015

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An utterly convincing and moving look at the beauty and perils of consciousness.

2017 CBC CANADA READS SHORT-LIST
WINNER OF THE 2015 GILLER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE 2015 ROGERS WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE 2015 TORONTO BOOK AWARDS

- I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.

- I'll wagera 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 most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. 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 ...
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Title:Fifteen DogsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:160 pages, 0.82 × 7.49 × 0.6 inPublished:April 1, 2015Publisher:Coach House BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1552453057

ISBN - 13:9781552453056

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Loved the Lord of the Flies in Toronto aspect.
Date published: 2017-12-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different read Never read a book quite like this one. Tackled some pretty common issues concerning humanity but added a fresh spin by looking through a dog's eyes. Worth reading for sure.
Date published: 2017-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! So filled with pride to read a great Canadian book that is based in my city! This book made me think and think and think!
Date published: 2017-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book This book was truly amazing. A look into the minds of dogs...and "Gods". It made me laugh and it made me cry. You will never look at any dog in the same way again. If I could give a sixth star I would.
Date published: 2017-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Book Club recommendation This is the type of book that has levels that should be discussed with others. On one level, it's about dogs living on their own/in a pack, and how they survive in Toronto. On another level, it speaks to human emotions and qualities. It would be great to hear other perspectives on what certain events mean. It's great food for thought.
Date published: 2017-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An interesting concept Very good read! Especially if you're a dog lover.
Date published: 2017-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A favourite, sure to be dog-eared! I bought this book about a month ago after being intrigued by the premise on Canada Reads earlier this year - I was not disappointed. At first a unique and playful experiment, Fifteen Dogs draws you in allows us humans to reflect on what it means to possess the gift and burden of intelligence, along with our ever-present base instincts. Humorous, insightful, eloquent and tender, this book made me laugh out loud and shed tears as it forced me to contemplate the meaning and precious nature of consciousness. I have already recommended this book to several friends.
Date published: 2017-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good Overall a fairly good read. The pacing of the plot lags in some parts, but if you are a dog lover then you will enjoy this collection of stories from the perspective of dogs.
Date published: 2017-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Concept The quality of the story is marvelous as it sheds light on such a fascinating subject. Beautifully written and purposeful. I plan on reading this over and over again in attempts to fully capture its meaning.
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A short but powerful thought piece Admittedly a bit darker than I was anticipating, but I am sure that reflects a naivete about the good that can come from human consciousness rather than gratuitous shock value for the author. We need look no further than the never-ending breaking headlines to see what humans are capable of with consciousness aplenty.
Date published: 2017-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Heart Wrenching but Worthy Read I loved that this story was set in Toronto, it allowed me to picture every scene with such vibrancy as I had been to the places that the protagonists had. While it was a sad story, it brought to light the gifts and curses beings receive for their intelligence. If you are looking for a thoughtful read, pick up this book!
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Journey Such a wonderful story to read
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Journey It was tough at some points to find the will to continue, but it is all worth-while.
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Journey worth taking Love it. Well written and well evolved. This book is a keeper!
Date published: 2017-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Moving Example of Fine Canadian Literature A fantastic and emotional journey that's about so much more than just dogs. This novel examines prejudice and natural tendencies through a lense that allows the reader to reflect without being to obvious. Yes this is a dark book at times, but it's out of necessity and due to the connection with the dogs that the author brings out in us.
Date published: 2017-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth every award. This is a masterful revision of "The Lord of the Flies." The Greek gods decide to give 15 dogs a human mind, and wager whether any of the pack will die happy. By placing this story in an otherworldly setting it allows us to think about what it means to be human. The dogs respond differently, thus illustrating the spectrum of humanity's best and worst. This book is not about dogs, or animal cruelty as some reviews suggest. Rather the cruelty is the result of becoming human. Humanity is capable of evoking the celestial, being down to earth, and unspeakable deeds which we would rather inter under the earth. My career is an English college instructor and I place this as one of the top two books read this year. The other being "Captivity Tales".
Date published: 2017-08-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for me. So, while I appreciate the imagination and the beautiful writing that went into this book... I'm a dog lover, and watching dog after dog after dog die sad was brutal. Normally, I love dark books, but apparently I draw the line at the unhappiness of dogs, because that was too much for me. Also, I got overly hung up on the logistics of dog language acquisition.
Date published: 2017-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book deserves every award it's received Not only is this book touching and insightful, and deeply philosophical in a way that many novels fail to be, it is also entertaining, keeping you plugged in to the concept every step of the way. An instant Canadian classic.
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Liked it! Very thought provoking though not very pleasant read!
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking This is a different one for sure, I can imagine there must be mixed reviews on this book. Bored Greek Gods - Hermes and Apollo - make a wager on whether or not animals would be more unhappy than humans if they were granted human intelligence. Apollo thinks animals would be even more unhappy than humans. Hermes says that if even one is happy at the end of his life, then he wins a year of servitude from Apollo. To test this theory, fifteen dogs at a local shelter are granted human intelligence, and the story begins. We follow this pack through their transition from life before human intelligence to life after. Good things: an incredibly clever premise, deeply insightful passages, and an ending that had me in tears. Not so Good things: Requires vast quantities of concentration to keep the names of all the characters straight. Thank goodness for the page at the beginning that lists their names...I referred to it often! Overall: A unique fable for adults, definitely not your typical “beach read” but great in a different way. If you are a fan of “thinking” books...rather than pure escapism, then this is the one for you. 4 Stars
Date published: 2017-08-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed The concept was unique and interesting but failed in its execution.
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED This book is phenomenal. Love that it is set in Toronto and that it is different. So glad it won a lot of awards and happy it came from a Canadian Press. I cannot suggest reading this enough!
Date published: 2017-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing When I began reading this book, I was expecting something totally different, but it definitely turned out for the better. I was fascinated by the insights that the author took into human emotions as well as demonstrating a unique idea about social order. I've read it several times since and would highly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Don't. Just don't. This book is actually a TWO STAR read; I upped it to three based on the uniqueness of the central theme alone. I was so looking forward to this book - dogs with human intelligence AND an element of Greek mythology - such fun! The premise was promising and unlike any I've seen, and the opportunity for hilarity - or at least dark humour - was huge. I hate to say it, but “meh” pretty much summarizes it. Alexis’s writing it rather uninspiring – while the writing itself from an editorial stance was nearly impeccable (a rarity these days), his writing is flat, dull, near humourless, and predictable. His portrayal of “the pack” was elementary and superficial, and demonstrated a lack of canine understanding – has Alexis ever even owned a dog?? Overall, this book did not live up to its claim. It was jumbled, directionless, and dissatisfying. Frankly, this novel read more like a very long and boring introduction to what could have been an interesting story, rather than a completed piece of prose. Giller Prize? Really??
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Surprised I read this book because it won the Giller Prize, so I had no expectation of what it would be going in. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised buy the story, but it was the writing that I enjoyed the most. Alexis writes in a way that captured me emotionally, and I felt attached to the characters, which is something I rarely feel. The plot itself was a bit transparent, but I enjoyed the ride.
Date published: 2017-07-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unsatisfactory I usually never put away a book without completing it, this one was an exception. It's really overrated, the writing style is too simplistic and the plot is dull.
Date published: 2017-07-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing This book was recommended to me by a friend and I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to the potential of the premise. I really disliked it.
Date published: 2017-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good reminds me of Animal Farm and 1984.Interesting and very different from the usual read.
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A book for dog lovers I avoided reading this book for a long time. I don't consider myself a dog lover and the premise did not initially appeal to me. But, it seemed like everyone I know read this on vacation and had good things to say. The story was touching and there were some thoughtful details, but I just found it lacked something to make it special. This is a great vacation read because it's short and doesn't require you to think too hard. And it's about dogs.
Date published: 2017-06-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Didn't live up to the hype or the concept One of the more disappointing books I have read in some time. The concept was what hooked me. Unfortunately, the author could have done so much more to develop the plot, the characters and the book as a thought-provoking read. The writing style seemed quite disjointed at times, and I was left wondering why the book has been so well received in Canadian literary circles.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great writing but too sad I just didn't like reading about the dogs getting hurt. It made me cry.
Date published: 2017-06-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring Boring, sad, made me feel hopeless.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Expected more I expected much more out of this book, especially surrounding the dog's language. Even though it is a short book, I found it very difficult to get through. I can tell the author was going for some kind of fable with a moral and symbolism, but for me it fell short.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Read It's such a great novel in terms of the unusual concept and the skillful weaving of philosophy, animal and human nature (both the similarities and differences), and a blend of humor and heartbreak. Alexis always leaves me thinking about his work, as well as the world we live in, and Fifteen Dogs was no different.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A different perspective I really enjoyed the perspectives explored in this book. I often thought of the quote by Don Miguel Ruiz - We all live in our own perception of reality - and it was very interesting to explore Alexis' take on how dogs may perceive the world, if given human intellect. As strange as the book was, it was a page-turner for sure!
Date published: 2017-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting As a dog lover, I really enjoyed this book. I thought that the premise and perspective were very interesting, and I also loved that the novel was set in Canada.
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from No wonder this won so many awards! This was my happy introduction to Andre Alexis' writing, and I can't say enough good things about it. It's strange, it's beautiful, it's unusual, and it tells us things about ourselves that only allegory can. In this case, that allegory seems both fresh and macabre and beautiful.
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting I wasn't sure what to think of this book after reading the description but it was actually pretty good. A very interesting concept and, I thought, poignant discussion on humanity.
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely Surprised! I loved it! I picked this book up on a whim. The cover drew me in and the brief synopsis on the rear cover had me intrigued. The concept is so refreshingly original and as a pet owner I have often wondered what it would be like if my my dog understood me And in turn I could understand her. But this novel is so much more than just that. It is a journey of discovery, of laughter and tears, and it is so relatable - on so many levels. I actually recommended it to a friend who is NOT a dog lover at all and she was amazed too. So not just for dog / pet / animal lovers. Five stars, worth the read. Absolutely! I would recommend this book to anyone, over and over.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Concept, Prepare for Emotion This book has a very interesting concept.. At times I felt quite sad though thinking about my own dog as I read through this book. The book seemed to end abruptly to me, and now that it is over I'm not sure how I feel about it. I definitely think I ought to read it again to catch what the author may or may not be trying to hide.
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not for me glad i did not buy this. i borrowed this from the library. quit reading this after about 3 chapters.
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick Read I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read. It's especially interesting as a person from Toronto since Toronto is mentioned in the book :)
Date published: 2017-05-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not for me cool concept, poor execution.
Date published: 2017-05-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting A very slow start, but begins to pick up as you follow the different dogs' journeys. But once it gets interesting, finally, the book is nearly over. Kind of a disappointing read, but an interesting concept which made it worthwhile to read. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting premise This is a good book for animal lovers. It has a lot of hype surrounding it and it lives up to it for the most part. I wouldn't say it's quite as fast-paced as readers may feel it could be, but if you stick with it, it's an entertaining and interesting story.
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay, not great A tad overrated, I thought. Quite slow at some points in the plot.
Date published: 2017-05-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Had to read for book club Initially, I liked the premise of immortal gods giving human intelligence to a group of dogs. After killing off most of the characters within the first chapter, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was amusing living life through the eyes of Majnoun and Benji. However, ultimately not a whole lot happened and it was upsetting that so many dogs were killed off in gruesome ways.
Date published: 2017-05-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick and Easy, but thought provoking... I haven't read any of the other CANADA READS contenders yet- though they are sitting on my desk waiting for me to have time for them, so I can't really compare at this moment. I did find the book interesting enough, and I did enjoy thinking about the concept of animals having human conscience and language. Some of the suffering that the dogs endured was difficult to read- but that it was able to make you feel that way was the point wasn't it.
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Why did this win Canada Reads? I am a dog fanatic, so I thought this would be an interesting read. I found it dark, depressing and not really about dogs at all. Too much suspension of disbelief here to make it a provoking read for me.
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Overrated For a book with such hype, I was greatly disappointed. Making it even more disappointing to me was that I thought the concept was brilliant but, it was poorly executed in my opinion. It did have it's moments when it seemed to be going somewhere good but then a downturn would take place.
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright Overall it was alright, i was intrigued by the concept was a little slow but it wasn't that bad. short read and quick once I was into the plotline.
Date published: 2017-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you want a book that makes you think This book is a quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is amusing, if you want an easy read at the beach, but if you pay attention and dig deeper, there are layers and layers for deeper thought. I think this would generate great discussions at a book club!
Date published: 2017-04-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad. Pretty good. A quick read and makes the reader think...a bit. It might have been improved by making it a less quick read so that the reader could dig deeper into the psyche and minds of the dogs. But...good.
Date published: 2017-04-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great hybrid of new world and mythology This was a great read especially as a Toronto-native. This takes a story set in today's time and mixes with Greek mythology and does a great job of it, too. I enjoyed the evolution of the characters as they experience a transfiguration of the mind and consciousness. It was also a tragedy, and thus in the way tragedies do, you feel catharsis and bittersweet sadness.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Canada wrongs Canada Reads got it wrong this year. As we celebrate 150 years we don't need to know about male gods giving human characteristics to dogs who, after all are only dogs. The premise, while holding potential, does not deliver. More sex and violence? No thank you.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not to bad this was not a great novel
Date published: 2017-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprised Me I was actually quite pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I read it as part of a book club and I was admittedly hesitant about it in the beginning, just because it didn't seem like something I would normally choose for myself. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it as I got into it and I really found myself feeling invested in the story.
Date published: 2017-04-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Tad Slow I have been reading a lot of the recommended Canadian literature as of late ,but I found this one to be a bit slow.
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Set up to fail The premise of Fifteen Dogs is intriguing, and it's worth reading the book just to engage with the thought experiment: What if a different species had the gift of a human level of intelligence? I was disappointed by a number of the choices the author made about the embodiment of the premise. Of the fifteen dogs chosen to receive the gift, only 2 or 3 are female. This was an arbitrary choice by the author. The subsequent plot is overwhelmingly driven by the male imperative to establish superiority in the pack. In actual mammal (including both human and canine) biology, the female endocrine structure has different imperatives, and the interaction between the male and female in community moderates the superiority drive. The book would have been much more interesting if there had been some play between different drives. But the two jesting gods were both male, and likely were blind or uninterested in the other half of mammal experience. The unrelenting emphasis on the contest among the dogs for superiority was boring.
Date published: 2017-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really good I loved this novel, I would highly recommend reading it!
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting read I picked this book up because of the awards it won. The concept is interesting, but I found it slow at times. I did, however, feel a strong connection with the characters (the dogs!) by the time I got to the end of the book. I would recommend this book because it's a short read and it leaves the reader with some things to think about.
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This book is short, interest and more than a fun read. Symbolises family, love, belonging, understanding people who are different than we are.
Date published: 2017-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Sometimes you read a book just for fun and sometimes you read a book to try and understand the world through another's eye. This story symbolises a lot: family, love, acceptance, authority and how we look at people who are like us in any way (Weird). Growing up, Someone like Benjy lived with my family and I totally related to Majnoun in that instance lol. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it
Date published: 2017-04-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I would give it a zero if it was an option Hated this book from start to finish. I don't get the accolades. It is not award-worthy IMHO.
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing. You just want to keep reading Really loved this book! The characters, the plotline, the dialogue. The writing was amazing and intriguing and complex. I loved the unique premise. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Miss for me This book is meant to reflect the human condition, good and bad. There are 15 dogs that are given the ability to think and reason, human intelligence and it's about how they deal with it yet still remain animals with base instincts. I'm not very good with books that are metaphorical and so I don't get the full effect. It's well written and the story of a couple of the dogs in particular I did enjoy though it's also quite sad. But the deeper meaning is lost for me. Keep an eye on the poetry, each dog's name is worked into a poem. Not surprised it's won a lot of awards, most recently Canada Reads 2017. It's the kind of book critics love! It was outside of my comfort zone but a lot of people do love it so I wouldn't *not* recommend it.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Patience and Determination I recently listened to this book being discussed on CBC Radio while driving to work and I was instantly intrigued to read this Novel. It is a great insight into understanding mankind.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting book Not necessarily a light read, although the concept is comical. Really encourages you to think about society and life in general.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hit or Miss This is really a hit or miss book. You'll enjoy it if you're into understanding mankind and its troubles otherwise you're better off getting another book.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book, a good read. This book was a requested Christmas gift and I started it Boxing day and finished it on the 28th. Wonderful unique story.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hard to get into Although this book is hard to get into it's worth the read.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from fifteen dos really did not enjoy or like this book for the first half but book has a lot of depth as reading continues. It brought to mind a book from long ago, 'Lord of the Flies'.
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Canadian author Complex to get into, but after realizing storeyteller is teaching a lesson to audience about mankind, interest piques
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good This was a great novel, a must read.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Okay It wasn't that bad, but not great in my opinion :/
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Dogs~Love HighPark & Beaches~Loved This Book! I borrowed "15 Dogs" from the library for a TPL book club, although I will be buying copies of the book as a Mother's Day gift (she loves dogs too) and another for a birthday gift for a friend. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would! I love dogs. I love Toronto, my home for most of my life. Two of my favorite Toronto neighborhoods are High Park & The Beaches. Those two areas are the settings for this entire novel. I am also a dog lover. The author, Andre Alexis, shows great insight into dogs' behavior and their thought processes that must lie behind it. The titular Fifteen dogs are granted human intelligence in the first few pages of the novel. It follows this group of unusual dogs for the rest of their lives. Alexis shows great imagination, compassion and empathy creating the characters of the dogs, and how their unusual intelligence affects their behaviors and lives. Highly recommended, particularly if you love dogs, and/or Toronto's High Park & The Beaches.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Insightful I enjoyed this story. I marvelled at the minimalist mentality that the dogs possess. A great book to discuss in book club.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you want to cry Great read to make you take a moment to think, hug a puppy, and maybe cry alittle
Date published: 2017-03-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A strange read I read this book as it was a Canada Reads finalist and am so conflicted about how I feel about it. The writing was good but there were a lot of strange sexual references and mistreatment of dogs. I don't feel it represented the human-dog connection very well.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Agree with DOGLOVER reviewer I wanted to know what all the hype was about with Fifteen Dogs, and because I am a lover of all wonderful canines, I wanted to pick it up. I am also thankful for the free preview, and like the DOGLOVER reviewer, I am also mortified with pages 4 & 5 on how the author writes about the cruelty of the workers at the vet and the selfish dog owners who own dogs simply as accessories. I had to stop reading as it was very disturbing. It is heartbreaking enough that we read about these terrible acts that happen to dogs and pups in the news, I don't need to curl up in my favourite chair & read about it in a fictitious novel & definitely not pay and support it. Save your money people, and donate that 20$ to the SPCA or Dog Rescue Shelters instead of funding this awful book. I am forced to put one star because it doesn't allow me to put 0 stars which is so lame. TERRIBLE.
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good. I love this book, well written.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a story! A great addition to any library.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I love this book...I also found it very sad and at times hard to read because it opens up the awareness of how we treat dogs. I have 3 large dogs of my own and I hope they feel my love for them. This book is truly an amazing read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from love such a good and amazing book
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining Very enjoyable but it's not for everyone. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just okay This was just an average novel, it was hard to get into.
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for dog lovers! #plumreview This book will stay in your memory, but not for a good reason. While I appreciated the unique approach: what happens when you give human consciousness to dogs; I cannot agree with where the author took this premise. Heartless, cruel and terribly sad.
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from free preview 15 dogs Thank you chapters.indigo for free previews. I read the first few pages of this book and was so glad that I did not purchase it. On about the 4th or 5th page something SO horrible happens I could not sleep. I could not even continue the page. If I had bought this book I would have immediately thrown it in the trash so as not to subject anyone else to the horror. I am a dog lover and the incident I read still haunts me. I don't even want to give it one star
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Over-promised and under-delivered. This book is actually a TWO STAR read; I upped it to three based on the uniqueness of the central theme alone. I was so looking forward to this book - dogs with human intelligence AND an element of Greek mythology - such fun! The premise was promising and unlike any I've seen, and the opportunity for hilarity - or at least dark humour - was huge. I hate to say it, but “meh” pretty much summarizes it. Alexis’s writing it rather uninspiring – while the writing itself from an editorial stance was nearly impeccable (a rarity these days), his writing is flat, dull, near humourless, and predictable. His portrayal of “the pack” was elementary and superficial, and demonstrated a lack of canine understanding – has Alexis ever even owned a dog?? Overall, this book did not live up to its claim. It was jumbled, directionless, and dissatisfying. Frankly, this novel read more like a very long and boring introduction to what could have been an interesting story, rather than a completed piece of prose. Giller Prize? Really??
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fun escapism A good insight into what it means to be human and what true happiness is in a fun unique forma. I personally enjoyed the Greek mythos tie in. The book was fun escapism. That being said, I was expecting more. I guess it is because the book won both the Giller and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize awards, and was one of the finalist of 2017 CBC Canada Reads (at the writing the winner of Canada Reads hadn’t been decided), maybe I over hyped it in my mind. I found it to be good, but not great.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Ok I wasn't blown away by this book although it was an interesting idea #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Book, but... It has a really in-depth theme and ideas that are explored throughout the book. I would recommend it to high school students.
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting read Thought a bit complicated at first, it was hard to figure out the storey line. I would have liked a bit more character development of the dogs so I could emphasize with them. The storey line about death and a happy or sad death is relevant in today's society where no one wants to die alone and there are societies that help people die happy. Interesting for sure but not a keeper but should be read.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from greatttttttttttt i live this book, got it as a gift
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites Although initially I didn't think I would enjoy this book, by the end of it I was recommending it to friends. If you have an open mind, definitely give this book a chance.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprisingly Enjoyable Fifteen Dogs blew me away. This was probably the Canada Reads selection that I was least looking forward to, and it may very well end up as my front runner. Gods Hermes and Apollo are hanging out at the local tavern, waxing philosophical over drinks. The discussion turns to human happiness, and a bet is made: Apollo wagers a year’s servitude that any animal, if bestowed with human intelligence and consciousness, would be even more unhappy than humans. Hermes takes him up on the bet, with the caveat that if any one animal is happy at its death, he wins. After leaving the tavern they end up near a veterinary clinic and in the back are fifteen dogs. With that, they decide to test their theory on dogs, and they grant the animals with human language and intelligence. From here, the story unfolds. We follow the fifteen dogs as they begin to understand their new intelligence, through their lives and struggles, and ultimately to their deaths. The story is insightful, bleak, brutal, and heartbreaking – I absolutely loved it. The dogs ask poignant questions and contemplate timeless philosophies – to understand love, the fight for personal sovereignty, the need for a sense of family or community, dominance vs. submission, and of course the struggle to find meaning and joy in life. Alexis skillfully weaves in and out of their stories, and brings it all home with a touching denouement. In the note on the text, Alexis reveals something pretty amazing about the short poems in the book – I promise you’ll be turning back to read them all over again. Alexis packed so much into this short book: there’s action, quiet contemplation, humor, joy, and sadness. Every page has meaning and has been carefully crafted; this is not a book to be skimmed through. While this is a book about fifteen dogs, you do not need to be a dog lover to enjoy this, though there are some great moments for those of of who are! This book is profoundly human, and one that I can see myself returning to again and again.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It might have some cruel bits here and there, but I feel that just makes it what it is. Nonetheless, it's definitely earned a spot in my top 10. It's only 160 pages, give it a try!
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it #plumrewards. A riveting read
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from So So Interesting concept but wasnt my favourite #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from If you assume that a dog's entire personality is dominance-based, then you'll like this ...but if you know anything else about dog psychology, it'll bother you the entire time. The writing in this is lovely, obviously, and reading about dogs philosophizing is fun for anyone. But this book really hangs its hat on the idea that all dogs are driven primarily, secondarily, and basically always by dominance for dominance's sake (even in an established pack), and that's not necessarily the case if you are more than surface-interested in dogs. Also, it makes for a pretty animal abuse-filled (dogs by dogs mostly, but still) read. Kind of surprised at how much leverage this book found, but I guess people really believe that guy who peddles that making dogs fear you is the only way to live in peace with them? Yikes.
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Author - Interesting Read Reading the summary of this book I didn't think I would enjoy it - but once I started to read I just couldn't put it down. It's thoughtful, playful, insightful and beautifully written (it even has some lyric structure to it!). For anyone who has ever owned or loved an animal, and wondered "what are you thinking right now?" I would definitely pick up this book. Great read! #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great, thought provoking read! Andre Alexis tells a story in a way that makes you re think your own relationship with your pets while also questioning the beauty and burden of human intelligence.
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not your typical dog read An unsettling and thought provoking story told through the eyes of a group of dogs.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unique, but not my favourite. The book has an intriguing and unique premise: dogs with newfound human intelligence try to navigate the world while bored Greek gods meddle in their lives. The book covers an impressive amount of ground considering its length, but its prose maintains a clinical distance from its characters that prevented me from getting too emotionally caught up in their lives.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well done! Fifteen Dogs peeks into our assumptions about language and perspective, and then forces us to confront our own "humanness". Big questions and revelations for such a quick read that made me sympathize and just plain old FEEL for its characters. Well done!
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lovelybook Friend gave me this to read -- love it
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Bought this yesterday! Great till the last page!
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I love dogs This was an interesting concept but I just love dogs so much that it was a bit violent and graphic for my taste.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Takes itself very seriously This book also has too many weird, sexual references to both dogs and humans.
Date published: 2017-02-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Bad It was insightful and inquisitive while still being a serious read.
Date published: 2017-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! Very interesting, philosophical.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting This book is an interesting philosophical story. Alexis takes us on an interesting examination of happiness. I really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from meh Not really my cup of tea - kinda violent
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Grisly Tale I really enjoyed this story. It will make you look at dogs in a new and different way after. Warning: there are some violent and gruesome parts.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hmm Very interesting premise, but I found it to be a little disappointing. I felt like the book had the potential to be so much better.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Feelings The book is well written and I can understand why it won awards. It is very well written. That being said, the book definitely tests one's resolve to finish the novel. I enjoyed the different perspective given by the author and the questions the novel allows you to ponder about dogs' intelligence. However, for any reader who wishes not to read about violence against dogs, I would not recommend. Not for the die-hard dog lover.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Mehh The underlying message of the book was nice, but the brutality of the book was a little too much for me as I am a huge dog (and animal) lover!
Date published: 2017-01-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A friend recommended it but... To be honest I couldn't get through the first quarter of it
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not what I expected This book is not really about dogs! If that is what you are expecting, you might be disappointed.
Date published: 2017-01-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Was expecting much more This book sounded great and I was excited to read it. I found it very disappointing. I kept expecting it to become something more, but it never did.
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Utterly disappointed I was excited about a book about dogs because I absolutely love my dogs. However, this book exhibits all the worst about dogs and human nature. I hope that as dogs and people there are good things in the world for us as well. The vicious violence was unparalleled with other dog stories.
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed feelings I had a lot of emotions reading this book
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not worth it I was excited to read this book and loved the concept. But it was a disappointment- mostly I think because the perspective of the dogs was not authentic to me. As a veterinarian maybe I have a different understanding of dogs but there is more to them than butt sniffing and poop eating. Dog society is much more complex than the animalistic (haha) portrayal in this novel. I read on hoping for a redeeming ending, but it was not there either. This novel had great potential but did not live up to it.
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worth Reading The author did a great job capturing the destructive nature of humans, but I didn't like all the animals being hurt.
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An Extravegent Read This is a novel well written that will make you never want to put the book down!
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Difficult read I found myself thinking about this book long after I had finished, which to me marks a good book. However, I felt almost traumatized by it. There were times I wanted to stop because it was just so depressing. My heart ached for the thought process and the actions of the dogs. It makes you think about morality and whether or not its worth all the anguish.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great You will laugh and cry and be so happy you picked up this book
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So great Pick this up without knowing what it was about. So happy I did. What a great book. You will laugh and cry and in the end be so happy you got this book
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read This is story telling at its best. Read it patiently though. There is a lot going on here. It took me to the last last where I put down the book and said: "Right on!!!!!"
Date published: 2016-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gave a great new perspective I really enjoyed this book. It was very different from the novels I would generally choose, but I was glad to have read it. It gave a unique perspective on the dynamic relationship between humans and their dogs. Would definitely recommend!
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lingering Tail This was such a unique story! While some parts dragged, over all it came out as a solid philosophical read. I would most certainly recommend this to anyone looking for something thoughtful and a little different.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Rivating, real and raw Although this book is of the fantasy genre, its story is so real you almost believe it. When fifteen dogs are given human consciousness by the gods, only the most unlikely and captivating of stories could follow. Somehow the author used canines to engage his readers in discourses of deep human issues such as love, trust and loss- all the while spinning a fantastical tale that is highly engaging. This is unlike anything I've ever read, and I would happily read it again and again.
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Read this book for school I read this book for school, and was surprised that it was quite interesting. Not normally my cup of tea but it was an eye opening read. It was a tad dull, but the concept was interesting.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable An interesting philosophical read.
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 paws! I don't cry much, but this novel made me shed tears while I was reading it on the bus, and that is coming from a predominantly cat-person. Although some might complain that the premise is somewhat tacky, the exploration of what it means to be "human" is one of the most moving that I can remember. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Splendid Introduction to Alexis' Work The unique, heartfelt, and surprisingly philosophical Fifteen Dogs is a beautiful novel, through and through. The premise is as follows: Hermes and Apollo are having a discussion over a few pints in a Toronto bar when a wager is suggested. The gods will grant fifteen dogs human intelligence and wager on the unlikely event that one of the dogs dies happy. It is then that the reader meets the titular fifteen dogs as they come into consciousness. Despite a seemingly immense cast for a novel under 200 pages, many of the dogs meet untimely ends early in the novel and a few hounds rise to be the book’s leads. The dogs’ perspectives in the novel are revelatory. These are not just dogs that can think like humans, they struggle with their canine nature amidst these newfound mental capabilities. Though the plot may seem outlandish and slightly juvenile, the novel’s aspirations are lofty. Alexis grapples with the very questions that have plagued humanity for all of our existence (source pending): what does it mean to be human? What is love? Would we find faith without being led to it? These topics and many others are covered in believable and realistic passages as the dogs each decide on different paths in their lives. Of particular note is the humor and realism that Alexis creates as the dogs puzzle out the behavior of humans. These scenes are equal measures hilarious for the dogs’ misinterpretation of human activities and profound as the dogs come to grips that they are similar but separate from the rest of society. I can’t honestly think of a book I’ve read that is quite like Fifteen Dogs. Alexis’ writing is confident, the characters are believable, and his situations naturalistic. The book is filled with wit, and the unique perspective of the dogs provides a reading experience that is quite unlike anything else I’ve encountered. What’s more, as far as award-winning literature goes, Fifteen Dogs is not excessively challenging, but highly rewarding. If you’re embroiled in a heavy work schedule or a daunting academic semester, Fifteen Dogs would make a fine choice.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic I cannot get this book out of my head - read it in one sitting and couldn't fall asleep afterwards. For the thoughtful reader. Purports to be about dogs but of course isn't, really. A heart-breaker of a story but those who love dogs know that dogs are heart-breakers. NOT FOR CHILDREN. Have recommended it to three people.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A stunning unique book Going into this book I had no idea at all what to expect but was incredibly pleasantly surprised to find a witty, poignant tale about the human condition.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So glad this was given to me I like dogs, but not "dog stuff" - so I was a little bit reluctant to dive in when it was given to me. So glad I did! It is a poignant story with rich thematic development - and in fact when I travelled during the summer EVERYONE was talking about it in multiple countries, and I was glad I could contribute to the nuanced discussions and debates. Would be a great choice for a book club. Can't wait to read Alexis' other work.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it I loved this book -- the writing is excellent, the ideas interesting and the characters relatable.. those who anthropomorphize their pets as cute human companions might be offended.. but dogs are as loyal and smart as they are blood thirsty hunters.. we see these traits combine elegantly with human capabilities .. not easy to bring about - i was convinced by the effort.
Date published: 2016-04-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Tedious I really did not enjoy it, and only finished it out of respect for a friend who selected it for our book club. I did not enjoy the style in which the author "tells" rather than "shows" who the characters are and what they are thinking. And I thought the whole book was disorganized.
Date published: 2016-03-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't even bother I seem to be one of the only people who hated this because because of something other than the violence. The violence was fine, it was probably the aspect of the book that made the most sense. This book is terrible because it has NO sense of pacing, the characters are entirely forgettable and it's needlessly 'poetic'. I understand that a lot of people think that the poetic aspect is what makes the book, but it really, really isn't. It seems like something mediocre that was thrown in as an afterthought to appeal to all the people who want to seem deep and cultured. "Oh yes I read 15 Dogs, that excellent, poetic book that one the Giller Prize." It's garbage. Don't waste your money.
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good look into the Human Psyche This was not a book I would typically pick up to read. I decided to read it after hearing the author read his work at "Word on The Street" held in Toronto during the Fall of 2015. I liked it and I hated it. I've read the other comments here- and what I believe people have failed to realize or remember is that this book takes a long hard look into the human psyche. The dogs were given human qualities. That is why the dogs behaved as they did- and what people find disturbing is really a look into how we treat and regard other human beings...
Date published: 2016-03-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Exploration The author posits an interesting question - what if dogs had the same mental capacity as humans? The book explores human nature vs animal nature and what it means to be a thinking, understanding being. While the book starts off a little slow, it picks up half way through as we learn the fate of the dogs and how their newfound intelligence has shaped their lives.
Date published: 2016-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not for the easily heartbroken While this is definitely a heartbreaking story, and made me question my love for my dogs, it is an intriguing story that examines human culture and human life from the perspective of the animals we love most. It's also very sad.
Date published: 2016-02-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Glad I didn't buy it! After reading 62 pages, I put it down to pick up a better book. In this case a question/fable is just an excuse to hurt animals. We see enough of it in daily life. Why conjure such a story? Have you heard the saying, " I don't care what happens in the movie as long as the dog doesn't get hurt". All the dogs and some other animals are hurt here. Not an animal lovers book for sure and I will do my best to pass this info on. It continues to perplex me why someone would write such a book and why it would get a Giller prize. I just want to forget it.
Date published: 2016-01-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from What a terrible book. I surmised that book, as this won the Giller Prize was going to be something to enjoy, boy was I wrong. This book should not be read by anyone who's ever loved (or been loved by) a pet and had to end their suffering. It's needlessly cruel and violent. I certainly won't purchase any book again on the merits of whatever award it's won.
Date published: 2016-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dogs make the best Humans Trust a pack of dogs to tell us more about what it is that makes us human! Fifteen Dogs started off as a simple story but became more insightful with every twist and turn. I must admit, I initially resisted this novel due to my snobbery – think about it, a story about fifteen talking dogs sounds like it could go downhill pretty quickly, doesn't it? It was foolish of me to think so as André Alexis has deftly crafted an undeniably entertaining and thought-provoking plot. It's filled with keen observations and sly commentaries on the human psyche, for example, this gem of a line: "Humans do not always mean what is meant by the sounds they make. You must be careful." It reads easy; simultaneously being poetic and matter-of-factly, like having a narrator convey the stream of consciousness of the pack of dogs even though they are individually presenting their thoughts in serialized chapters. The story is like a puzzle with sliding pieces that when complete, reveals what lies behind the overall picture. Each puzzle piece represents a characteristic and personality trait that make the canines so individualistic. Social standings and conventions, relationships, belonging and loyalty, love and sex, the passage of time, death and mourning, language, the arts and culture – these were some of the facets of human life that were touched upon to answer what it is that makes us happy to have lived a full life. Happiness - that's the ultimate end goal. And honestly, based on how true to the state of humanity the lives of all fifteen dogs play out, I'm left feeling saddened but also inspired by just how fleeting our happiness can be.
Date published: 2016-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Though provoking read A very different type of story, but excellent none the less. I found the characters (dogs) very dynamic and became very invested in them. The story grapples with questions of humanity and it results in a story that is not necessarily pleasant, but very interesting and poetic. I really appreciated the references to Greek mythological figures - I thought it created a lot of depth and added a very interesting aspect to the story. Overall and easy, thought provoking read. I've been thinking about this one since I finished reading it a month ago.
Date published: 2015-11-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrific Start with a scene where two gods are in the Wheat Sheaf Tavern in Toronto. They get to talking over beer and make a bet. What would it be like if animals had human intelligence? Would they be more or less unhappy than humans? If even one animal dies happy, Hermes will owe Apollo one human year's servitude. This bet leads them to a veterinary clinic on Shaw where fifteen dogs are overnighting. They are granted human consciousness and awareness. And so it begins. The dogs escape the clinic and strike out on their own. Some embrace their new consciousness; some fight against it; some love the freedom and creativity of language; others fear that new skills will upset the traditional hierarchy of the pack. Do any of them die happy? Who wins the bet? I bought and read the book because it is this year's Giller Prize winner. I might not have ever picked it up otherwise. The book can be a very fast read - I did it in three sittings. Here's the thing - two days later I've started a new book, but I'm still thinking about this one.
Date published: 2015-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good read At first I disliked this book, but then I changed my mind somewhere around page 50. I don't know when it happened, but I realized that I was invested in the characters and wanted to see what would happen to them. The writing style is a bit different, but it works with the characters. Overall, I enjoyed this book (it would make a great "cold day with a hot chocolate" read).
Date published: 2015-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth it! Couldn't put it down. I absolutely loved it! I felt a deep connection to each of the characters. Beautifully written!
Date published: 2015-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is not Lassie It's dark and sometimes funny and rather tragic and it had me hooked. I had the book read in one day.
Date published: 2015-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lyrical and moving. A beautiful, heartbreaking new way to understand our humanity. Also a testament to the power of Canadian literature and independent publishing! Highly recommend.
Date published: 2015-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dog lovers will get it... This is a fresh and interesting read especially for people who live in Toronto, love dogs, and appreciate mythological referencing. Quite funny in places but also very dark and a little disturbing. Definitely a bit different...and I think that's a good thing.
Date published: 2015-06-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dissapointing I was so excited by the concept of this book, but was completely dissapointed by the story. It was unnessarily cruel. I hope the author treated his own dogs better than he has almost all 15 dogs in this book. I heard the author talk about his book in an interview with CBC and how much of what he wrote was based on his own dogs. I would not recommend this book to anyone, and especially not to dog lovers.
Date published: 2015-04-14

Editorial Reviews

'A novel about a pack of talking dogs, you say? The very idea will most likely breed thoughts of insufferable whimsy, like those paintings of mutts playing poker, or of more or less effective satire, in the vein of Animal Farm. It's a grand thing, then, that this spry novel by Canadian André Alexis spends its 160 pages repeatedly defying expectations ... I'm far from being a dog person, but as a book person I loved this smart, exuberant fantasy from start to finish.' - Jonathan Gibbs, The Guardian