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"John Hughes’ writing is intelligent, delicate and otherworldly, his narrator bumbling, contrary and oddly endearing. A novel in which the past and the present twine, and the vastness of history crystalises in one man’s troubled here and now.
Michael Shamanov, son of war survivors, inheritor of nameless devastation, drily humorous admitter of his own failings, is presented with a last-chance opportunity to find love and mercy as they must exist in his world – imperfectly.
A stealth manoeuvre of the emotions. Beautifully restrained, deeply moving"
— Peggy Frew
Michael Shamanov grapples with the idea of his mother’s life and her desire to finish it. Perhaps it’s her life he has been running away from and not his own.
“The story of a life is a secret as life itself. A life that can be explained is no life at all.” — Elias Canetti
Is it possible to write about the living without thinking of them as already dead?
Michael Shamanov is a man running away from life’s responsibilities. His marriage is over, he barely sees his son and he hasn’t seen his mother since banishing her to a nursing home two years earlier. A successful screen writer, Michael’s encounter with his mother’s nurse leads him to discover that the greatest story he’s never heard may lie with his dying mother. And perhaps it’s her life he’s been running away from and not his own. Is the past ever finished? Should we respect another’s silence? And if so, is it ever possible to understand and put to rest the strange idea of family that travels through the flesh?
From the Miles Franklin shortlisted author of No One comes a haunting gem of family secrets and impossible decisions.
JOHN HUGHES is based in Sydney. He has published six books, all acclaimed and highly awarded, including the National Biography Award and Premier’s Book Awards. His previous novels, The Remnants and Asylum were critically acclaimed, and in 2019, No One was shortlisted in the Miles Franklin Award 2020.
Cover artwork 'Offerings' by Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (2017)
Reviews: Geordie Williamson in The Saturday Paper (13/11/2021)
“ 'It seems to me,' writes the narrator of W. G. Sebald’s 2001 novel Austerlitz, that 'all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last, just as when we have accepted an invitation we duly arrive in a certain house at a given time'.
John Hughes’s new work, an ambitious elaboration of themes contained in his 2020 Miles Franklin-shortlisted novella No One, shares Sebald’s eerie sense of simultaneity, albeit with a twist. The Dogs instead contains events from the past given up, like a retreating glacier disgorging human remains. It’s a novel in which a hundred years of family history is suddenly thawed into the present.”
Reviews: Stephen Romei in The Australian (4/12/2021)
"The Dogs is not a sequel to No One but it continues the exploration of particular themes: exile, both geographical and emotional, the blood ties between Europe and Australia, the coalescence of the past, present and future and the blessings and burdens of family. It is achingly sad, archly funny and beautifully written."
Reviews: Paul Anderson in Newtown Review of Books (6/10/2021)
The Dogs is a seductive shaping of memory and imagination, a stunning, moving and intricate family story traversing two continents and multiple generations. It's an allusive and superbly plotted literary fiction, a historical-contemporary cross: widescale and microscopic, metaphysical in aims, with autobiographical imprint."