From Publishers Weekly
This gritty, richly imagined tale of an abandoned boy in a Moscow shantytown who comes to live with a pack of feral dogs more than lives up to its unlikely premise. Hornung (Fire, Fire
, etc., written as Eva Sallis) tracks young Romochka's growth over two difficult years from a four-year-old whelp to a taut, street-smart alpha dog. The boy's evolution from tolerated outsider to trusted leader of this canine crew is believably portrayed, and Hornung capably draws a tawdry world of trash-pickers, beggars, and occasional friends. As he grows, so does his curiosity about the world of humans he has fled, leading to an inevitable collision when Romochka is captured by a scientist who wants to use him to further his career. Hornung knows how to wring emotion from a scene, making the bond between boy and dog deeply felt, while rarely running afoul of sentimentality. In her hands, this engrossing story becomes both an investigation into humanity and a vivid portrait of one of Russia's millions of lost children. (Mar.)
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"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