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Abandoned in a big city at the onset of winter, a hungry four-year-old boy follows a stray dog to her lair. There in the rich smelly darkness, in the rub of hair, claws and teeth, he joins four puppies suckling at their mother’s teats. And so begins Romochka’s life as a dog.
Weak and hairless, with his useless nose and blunt little teeth, Romochka is ashamed of what a poor dog he makes. But learning how to be something else…that’s a skill a human can master. Fortunately–because one day Romochka will have to learn how to be a boy.
The story of the child raised by beasts is timeless. But in Dog Boy Eva Hornung has created such a vivid and original telling, so viscerally convincing, that it becomes not just new but definitive:
Yes, this is how it would be.
‘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. Extraordinary, compelling and utterly believable.’
‘Hornung has clearly done extensive research…but integrates it seamlessly into the novel. While Romochka’s life with the dogs is fascinating, the story becomes truly gripping when he is introduced to human society and we finally see him though others’ eyes. A novel whose end comes all too soon, Dog Boy is certain to make us both appreciate our canine friends and celebrate what it is to be human.’
‘This is an amazing feat of imaginative power on Hornung’s part, a book that traverses every sensation from delight to utter heart-break…The true strength of this remarkable book is that Hornung encourages us to question where exactly the border between animal and human is located.’
‘Dog Boy is rich in interest and ideas…Hornung is wonderful on the physical characteristics, both beautiful and repulsive, of animals and children…Dog Boy unravels some of the reasons why humans and dogs are co-dependant and at the same time reinvents the idea of the wild child as an urban survivor, suggesting a future so menacing we prefer to ignore it.’
‘the brilliant new Australian novel Dog Boy…On [a] seemingly improbable foundation, Hornung…builds the most believable story…it becomes an intelligent meditation on the needs of humans. … the author’s use of perspective is brilliant, as Romochka-as-dog values what he has with his dog family, but Romochka-as-human wonders what he is missing in the other world. This is the true tension of the book.
Hornung’s writing is beautiful and assured: her descriptions of this dog boy life are vivid and visceral and sensual and utterly compelling. She also writes about the dogs with breath-taking beauty—the penultimate climactic scene will squeeze your heart. Dog Boy is an ambitious concept, magnificently realised—you’ll never look at a dog in the same way again.’
‘Astonishing…a world of terrifying tactility—of teeth, teat, fur and claw…The novel is a strange, sombre, sobering triumph.’