Tag: Netherland

The Dog by Joseph O’Neill

Posted October 21, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

The Dog by Joseph O’NeillTitle: The Dog (Goodreads)
Author: Joseph O'Neill
Published: Harper Collins, 2014
Pages: 256
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Dog tells the story of a protagonist known simply as X; after a long-term relationship comes to an end he decides to make a change. Leaving New York, he takes an unusual job in a strange new city. Dubai is undergoing major transformations, the city is transforming into the ultimate futuristic city. Our protagonist finds himself in a different culture working as the “family officer” of the unpredictable and wealthy Batros family.

Right off the bat I can’t help but compare The Dog with Bret Easton Ellis’ book American Psycho and not for the reasons you might think. X might be an unlikeable character but he is no Patrick Bateman; well there are similarities but he isn’t going around killing people. Joseph O’Neill has created a shallow narcissistic character, thrown him into a very different culture and watched what might happen. This turns The Dog into a non-violent Ellis book just set in Dubai.

Can we also talk about the name X, not only does this book take its best ideas from Bret Easton Ellis and American Psycho but the protagonists name reminds me too much of the movie adaptation of J. J. Connolly’s novel Layer Cake. For those who don’t know or haven’t seen the movie, there is a character in that known as XXXX. Two connections to other novels and I am not off to a good start with this novel.

Normally I would love a novel with an unlikeable character stuck in in a culture clash but I kept seeing these similarities and it made it difficult. The book tried to make a humorous satire of the situation, playing on cultural differences and linguistics but I was still stuck. Every now and then I found glimpses of that craftsmanship I have heard about but maybe I should have just read Netherland, since that is the book people rave about.

The Dog was long listed for the Man Booker this year but I was assigned this book for book club. I just want it to be clear that I was not reading this book because of the long listing; in fact I was a little disappointed with this year’s list. I would have loved to enjoy this novel but for the most part it felt too similar to other novels. I felt the need to skim through The Dog rather than enjoying the writing and style.