Sunday, October 28, 2012

Five top novels not about humans

Carol Birch is the author of Jamrach’s Menagerie and ten other novels. She has won the David Higham Prize for Life in the Palace, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for The Fog Line, and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 for Turn Again Home.

For the Wall Street Journal she named five top novels not about humans, including:
The Labrador Pact
by Matt Haig (2004)

Narrated by Prince the Labrador, Matt Haig's reworking of "Henry IV, Part 1" is a heartbreaker with a minimum of sentiment and a huge dose of humor. Haig has said that he began this as a book about a family in crisis. The dog perspective imposed itself because the family pet was the ideal mute observer, listening in on all secrets. Haig's great imaginative stroke here is his portrait of Prince as a real dog, not just a human with fur—an ordinary dog in an ordinary family. No hero, no wolf under the skin, he's cozy and staid. His responsibilities lie heavy on him: It's his duty to protect the family and keep it together at all costs, even as it seems determined to pull itself apart. Equally complex is the power play working itself out in the parallel world of the local dogs, one of whom explains the Labrador code ("Duty Over All") and the history of the "Springer Uprising." Both a comedy about family life and a tragedy about the eternal conflict between duty and pleasure, "The Labrador Pact" is a moving tale—also a beautiful one in all its dark perceptions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Matt Haig's The Labrador Pact.

--Marshal Zeringue