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The Lost Dog


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An impressive, electrifying novel novel by one of Australia's most significant young writers, winner of a Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Encore Award for her previous novel, and a major international talent.

About the Author

Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and migrated to Australia with her family in 1972. She has taught English at the University of Melbourne, as well as working as an editor and book reviewer. Her novels, The Rose Grower (1999) and The Hamilton Case (2003), have been published across the world and translated into several languages. The Hamilton Case was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for South-East Asia and the Pacific, the Encore Award and the Tasmania Pacific Prize for Australian and New Zealand fiction. She lives in Melbourne.


De Kretser (The Hamilton Case) presents an intimate and subtle look at Tom Loxley, a well-intentioned but solipsistic Henry James scholar and childless divorce, as he searches for his missing dog in the Australian bush. While the overarching story follows Tom's search during a little over a week in November 2001, flashbacks reveal Tom's infatuation with Nelly Zhang, an artist tainted by scandal-from her controversial paintings to the disappearance and presumed murder of her husband, Felix, a bond trader who got into some shady dealings. As Tom puts the finishing touches on his book about James and "the uncanny" and searches for his dog, de Kretser fleshes out Tom's obsession with Nelly-from the connection he feels to her incendiary paintings (one exhibition was dubbed "Nelly's Nasties" in the press) to the sleuthing about her past that he's done under scholarly pretenses. Things progress rapidly, with a few unexpected turns thrown in as Tom and Nelly get together, the murky circumstances surrounding Felix's disappearance are (somewhat) cleared up and the matter of the missing dog is settled. De Kretser's unadorned, direct sentences illustrate her characters' flaws and desires, and she does an admirable job of illuminating how life and art overlap in the 21st century. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Michelle de Kretser showed us in The Hamilton Case what a gifted writer she is, offering a multilayered and mixed-voice narrative which was at once a rich family history and a cracking good murder mystery. The compelling portrait of past and present, home and exile, loss and love, post-coloniality, and what belonging might mean, that made that book so attractive are revisited in an entirely original way in The Lost Dog. This is a love story and a mystery as well, where the collision of an Indian heritage and the realities of life in contemporary Australia are the backdrop. Beautifully threading the narrative layers is the story of the ‘lost dog' itself. Lost at the beginning, reclaimed at the end, a city dog lost on a country excursion, the ‘speckled beast' links the histories of the central characters, plot and setting and essentially ‘grounds' a sophisticated exploration of the relationship between art and nature, and the weight of history, in primal reality. It's quite an achievement; with de Kretser's trademark densely textured language, rich visual imagery and depth of description making The Lost Dog a delight to savour as well as a tale to ponder.. David Gaunt is co-owner of Gleebooks in Sydney

While staying in a remote cabin trying to finish his book on Henry James, divorced college professor Tom Loxley loses his dog and sets out to find him in the Australian outback. Accompanying him is Nellie Zhang, a highly regarded contemporary artist with a scandal in her past--and a woman with whom Tom would like to be more than just friends. Tom's search for the dog is mirrored by multiple needs: to understand his past as an immigrant from India, to grasp both Nellie's art and her personal history (information about which is doled out in fragments), to be sensitive to his mother's growing disabilities, and to anchor himself in the present. De Kretser, whose The Hamilton Case was a 2004 New York Times Notable Book, overlays her protagonist's perceptions with layers of imagery--from nature, Henry James's ghost stories, contemporary art, urban decay, and renewal--creating a nuanced portrait of a man in his time. The novel, like Tom, is multicultural, intelligent, challenging, and, ultimately, rewarding. Recommended for all literary fiction collections.--Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"The best novel I have read for a long time....The writing is elegant and subtle, and Michelle de Kretser knows how to construct a gripping story ... new and constantly surprising, without being showy or quirky" -- A.S. Byatt * Financial Times *
"Reading The Lost Dog one is torn between contradictory urges - to race ahead, in order to find out what happens, and to linger in admiration of de Kretser's ravishing style" * New Statesman *
"Few writers have de Kretser's confident, meticulous plotting, her strong imagination and her precise, evocative prose. The Lost Dog opens up rich vistas... and introduces the reader to a world beyond its fictional frontiers" * The Times *
"The Lost Dog showcases a writer as subtly perceptive about feelings as ideas... Behind the troubled affections in this artful, witty but very moving novel, lies the "ghost story" of Australia itself" -- Boyd Tonkin * Independent *
"Kretser's native style is clear, vigorous, sensitive to mood and cadence, and strongly narrative - an excellent tool for a novelist with a story to tell. She does have a story to tell, and a good one" -- Ursula le Guin * Guardian *

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