By Eva Hornung
Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670021499, 304pp.
Publication Date: March 18, 2010
A vivid, riveting novel about an abandoned boy who takes up with a pack of feral dogs
Two million children roam the streets in late twentieth-century Moscow. A four-year-old boy named Romochka, abandoned by his mother and uncle, is left to fend for himself. Curious, he follows a stray dog to its home in an abandoned church cellar on the city's outskirts. Romochka makes himself at home with Mamochka, the mother of the pack, and six other dogs as he slowly abandons his human attributes to survive two fiercely cold winters. Able to pass as either boy or dog, Romochka develops his own moral code. As the pack starts to prey on people for food with Romochka's help, he attracts the attention of local police and scientists. His future, and the pack's, will depend on his ability to remain free, but the outside world begins to close in on him as the novel reaches its gripping conclusion.
In this taut and emotionally convincing narrative, Eva Hornung explores universal themes of the human condition: the importance of home, what it means to belong to a family, the consequences of exclusion, and what our animal nature can teach us about survival.
"Dog Boy is a tour de force of imaginative empathy. Eva Hornung is neither Russian nor canine but her deep engagement with languages, both human and animal, makes it possible for her to inhabit these utterly original characters on an almost molecular level. If The Story of Edgar Sawtelle convinced us that dogs have inner lives, Hornung reveals to us their very souls. This is a wonderful, intense and profoundly moving book from a writer of rare gifts."
-Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March and People of the Book
"Extraordinary...utterly compelling...In exploring what it might be like to be a dog from a human perspective, Dog Boy sheds much light on what it is like to be human."
-Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi
"This book will grab you by the throat and not let go...a subtle meditation on humanity and what it means to be human."
"A wonderful novel, a tour de force, even...Prize-winning Australian author Eva Hornung opens up a Pandora's box, full of questions about our humanity, our dealings with other creatures and our sense of what is normal...Hornung pulls no punches in talking about life on the streets, for dogs or for humans...Dog Boy creates, in Romochka, a touchingly complex and credible dog boy - cunning, tender, angry, wild, strangely beautiful - as well as a wholly convincing study of how a feral dog pack works...a novel that is not only very moving, but also morally and philosophically urgent in its core concerns."
"A modern Jungle Book - - a harsh look at human pack behavior."
"[Romochka's] attempts to please the dogs are touching, imparted to us in a somber, precise language . . . This is an involving, careful book, marked out by a rare sympathy for the natural world."
-The Daily Telegraph
Eva Hornung's novel Dog Boy is based on the true story of a young boy in Moscow who lived with a pack of dogs for two years. More at NPR.org
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