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The Dog

3.17  ·  Rating Details ·  1,575 Ratings  ·  296 Reviews
***PWs Best of the Year 2014***

The author of the best-selling and award-winning Netherland now gives us his eagerly awaited, stunningly different new novel: a tale of alienation and heartbreak in Dubai.

Distraught by a breakup with his long-term girlfriend, our unnamed hero leaves New York to t
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Pantheon (first published July 25th 2014)
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The Goldfinch by Donna TarttAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrThe Invention of Wings by Sue Monk KiddThe Circle by Dave EggersThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2014
58th out of 165 books — 693 voters
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam ToewsAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrHow to Be Both by Ali SmithThe Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber10 by Ben Lerner
Folio Prize 2015 Longlist
17th out of 80 books — 20 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 30, 2014 Trish rated it it was amazing
We never learn the real name of the narrator in Joseph O’Neill’s new novel, but we do learn that his professional name begins with the letter X. He won’t reveal his given name under pain of humiliation. X. thinks of himself, with a little help from his former lover, as “the dog,” as in “it appears I’m in the doghouse.” He thinks fairly rationally (probably due to his legal training) but with long trailing parenthetical asides, sometimes requiring up to five (or six!) parentheses together to ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
First, I have to admire O'Neil for taking quite a risk after his successful and engaging novel, NETHERLAND, which not only put him on the map, but established him as a fine author in the theme of dislocation and alienation. Here, too, his themes are largely about the displacement of foreigners. In this case, the protagonist and unnamed narrator, a New York attorney, was born in Switzerland and raised in the US. (A bit of cheeky irony--we don't know his name, but we do know his alter ego or ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Antonomasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Booker longlist 2014 (the shortest novel on it)
[4.5] A very interesting book. And not at all what I expected from Joseph O'Neill, whom I'd taken for American fiction's Mr Boring - on the strength of Zadie Smith's famous essay Two Paths for the Novel, even if the piece's essential idea did seem over-simplified. Some paragraphs in The Dog must count as Lyrical Realism, but almost none of this book is 'blah litfic', the gut response via which I usually label Lyrical Realism.

O'Neill isn't quite what he seems either: says an article, the longlis
Ron Charles
Sep 18, 2014 Ron Charles rated it it was ok
Shelves: guys-wandering
Joseph O’Neill’s “The Dog” arrives trailing clouds of glory from his previous novel, “Netherland,” which was longlisted for the Booker Prize, won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award and managed to make cricket cool in America. Set in the aftermath of Sept. 11, “Netherland” told the story of a depressed financial analyst estranged from his wife, but that plot was more garnish than meal. What the book really offered was O’Neill’s reflections on New York, relationships, ambition and especially cricket — ...more
Sarah Maguire
I see that one reviewer has already described this book as "too smart for most people" - so there, in a nutshell you have it.
One the one hand it is a breathtaking analysis of the Gulf States, coupled with a masterly exploration of the themes of displacement, alienation and the quintessence of No-where/No-one. A re-Kafkaization of the post-modern novel and an intelligent, insightful examination of the Condition of Man, if you will. On the other it is a somewhat meandering, never-quite-amounting-
Julia Rose
Jul 21, 2014 Julia Rose rated it it was amazing
Amazing, but--how can I say this without insulting the general public (I can't)--not for everyone, because it's too smart for most people. Comically philosophical, smart and minimally sarcastic, it solidifies O’Neill’s place among the literary elite. His sentence structure is a marvel in itself: smart almost-run-ons that snowball into brainy, legalese punch lines. Heavy on anecdotal backstory, soft on plot, but constantly entertaining. A New York lawyer immigrates to Dubai--perhaps fleeing a ...more
Sep 29, 2014 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
With a heavy heavy disclaimer that Joe O'Neill is an old and good friend, I will say that I am still making up my mind about this book, but there is much that is seriously brilliant here. It is Bartleby for the 21st-century. Also undercurrents of Kafka, the stranger, and remains of the day. A lot to think about before bedtime!
Magadored wants to extrude your face normals
Never written a review this early into a book, but the writing is absolutely eye watering. I've never read a literary writer whose prose looks so much like programming language -- and by that I mean lots and lots of nesting statements. This is not a good thing. When he's not nesting statements, he's qualifying things that don't need to be qualified. Or bludgeoning you with awkward similes. Is there some kind of symbolism to this? Some kind of awful writing device? I don't know, I haven't read ...more
Man Booker Longlist? Publisher's Weekly Top 10? Surely not!!

I was really hoping for a book based around the ironies that form modern day Dubai, instead, I got a rambling nonsense of facetious observations, pornography, meaningless words and multi-brackets.

So, here's an example of one needlessly wordy sentence: " I felt ashamed, specifically ashamed, that is, which is to say, filled with shame additional to the general ignominy that is the corollary of insight, i.e., the ignominy of having thus f
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the story of a man who moves to Dubai to work for a company with incredible wealth but questionable dealings. While it seems like a decent capture of some of the unique elements of the culture and feel of Dubai, a city with 90 percent ex-pats and more money than they know what to do with, I didn't connect well to the unnamed main character. I think that's his problem in general, he doesn't connect with people well including his ex-girlfriend and the many wives of a popular diver.

Part of
Bob Lakeman
Dec 11, 2014 Bob Lakeman rated it did not like it
This book is a real dog. Boring, repetitive, mundane.
Roger Brunyate
Jun 09, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-east
Literary Onanism

The smarty-pants headline would be "This Dog is a Dog," and it is true: this is a book that offers virtually no story, no sympathetic characters, no good reason for reading it, only a terrible letdown after the author's brilliant Netherland. And yet it still has Joseph O'Neill's command of the English language, his intellectual honesty, and, in a word, his class. Had I not had my expectations raised by Netherland (I was its first Amazon reviewer and still hold the top slot), I wo
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 Eas
Sep 11, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all, Joseph O'Neil is not an easy author to read. Some of his sentences are a page long, he loves using brackets and the narrative falls into digressions easily. However if you can take that, then you will find The Dog a very satisfying read. It's not the most savage jab at capitalism I've read but it's definitely the funniest.

The story focuses on an unnamed attorney who is hired to take care of the finances of a wealthy family business, which is located in Dubai. At first things go wel
Aug 26, 2014 Neil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
I think I might have given this book 4 stars were it not for the intensely aggravating over use of parentheses. No one needs to write paragraphs that end with ")))))).". For one thing, it looks bad on the page. Secondly, it's just a gimmick and serves no real purpose in the telling of the story (although the story itself is actually quite good (and well told, if I am honest (which I normally am (although my friends might disagree)))). See!

A few pages into this book, I thought I wasn't going to l
Kasa Cotugno
As with his very popular Netherland, O'Neill plops his protagonist into an unfamiliar landscape, but this novel shares quite a bit in tone with Dave Eggars's Hologram for the King. The Dog is longlisted for the 2014 Booker, and it will be interesting to see if it is chosen for the shortlist. Although it only runs 250 pages, it is dense, as are most interior monologues. Exceptionally literate and well written with much humor and detail, it does run slow at times, but picks right up again with the ...more
Mary Amato
The voice of this first-person POV story made me want to read, even though very little actually happened in this book until the end. It was worth reading, though, to hear this unusual, intelligent, funny, and idiosyncratic point of view. The story is about an attorney who, distraught over a break-up, takes a job as a kind of assistant to an extremely wealthy family in Dubai. The setting was fascinating. Loved the multiple parenthetical phrases in the stream of consciousness writing.
Nov 30, 2014 Leah rated it liked it
"To me, this wonderland was the same as any other human place: it boiled down to a bunch of rooms. I had a theory or two about rooms. They were still fresh in my mind, those evenings when Jenn would pace in circles in our Gramercy Park one-bedroom in order to dramatize the one-bedroom's long-term impracticality and reinforce the analysis she was offering, namely that all would be well if she and I, first, mentally let go of our apartment, the historic and rent-stabilized location of our love; ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Aharon rated it really liked it
Hard to know what to make of this bad boy. It's like American Psycho as rewritten by Dave Eggers, with some mostly-ignored input by Nick Hornby.
Jan 12, 2016 Ed rated it did not like it
Shelves: nick-picks
Literary style can best be described as "legal agreement-ish"

Oct 16, 2014 Krista rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
A doghouse implies a dog, and a dog implies a master. The identity of the dog is clear enough -- I was the dog. But who was the master?

The Dog by Joseph O'Neill is an ambitious critique of humanity and the edifices that we construct to keep each other at a distance. Appropriately enough, the book itself might be considered one such construction, as every reversion to French and German (even if the main character is half Swiss) and every parenthetical digression -- although purporting to dig
Sep 16, 2016 RichardS rated it really liked it
I like this book. Talk about anti-heroes. The narrator/central character is a lawyer so thinks and narrates in legalese, which is more than occasionally irritating, and I'm sure intentionally so. I found this to be a well developed tale of a man disengaging from adulthood and imperfectly enabled to do so by some of adulthood's trappings - gainful employment being the main one. His fears and paranoias if told in third person would smack of conspiracy, but in the first person they complete and are ...more
Dec 06, 2014 Matt rated it liked it
This is a very hard book to rate, because in my opinion it succeeded in what it was trying to do. So, five stars? The problem is, it was trying to punish the reader to no end. So, one star? I compromise and say three.

On page 144 of The Dog, our narrator (I refuse to call him a "protagonist," with all the goodwill that word implies) is discussing a legal document he had drawn up. I quote: "In a weekend-long lingual-legal rage, I composed a heartless, fearless, terrifying work of negation that bur
Aug 12, 2014 Mandy rated it it was ok
The unnamed narrator of this unusual novel packs up his life in New York after a break-up with his girlfriend and takes a position in Dubai working for a wealthy Lebanese family. It’s a strange sort of job, never clearly defined, which gives him much leisure time to indulge in a long interior monologue commenting on the somewhat surreal life that is led by ex-pats in Dubai. The trouble with an interior monologue is that the reader has to be invested in the character in order to be interested in ...more
Piper Hale
I had the good luck of being able to go into this novel knowing absolutely nothing about it, my preferred way of reading, but one I rarely get to use. Even better, it turned out to be a good book. Score!

The novel's unnamed narrator X. is a somewhat neurotic lawyer, and one prone to dwelling in his imagination. He often breaks into rambling asides that use the writing structure of legal documents and bizarre rounds of infinitely nesting parens, which get a bit Inception-y after a while. (And rea
Terri Jacobson
Oct 27, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it really liked it
The unnamed hero of this rich and funny narrative has taken a job in Dubai after breaking up with his long-term partner in New York City. He often thinks of himself as being "in the doghouse," hence the title of the book. (There are recurring references to this theme in the novel.) The writing is dense and intense, and probably not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience. Here's a short passage (in which he refers to Facebook) to illustrate O'Neill's writing style::

"(The re
cardulelia carduelis
This is my first Joseph O'Neill and I've enjoyed my trip to the Emirates!

The writing is very funny and the sole quote on the cover of my edition: "A Brilliant satire" is bang on.

The best parts of the Dog (of the proverbial doghouse) were his internal dialogues paired with an incredible inability to focus on anything but his personal comfort and take for granted his surroundings.
The writing style is perfectly suited to the subject matter: a first person internal monologue that jumps between the
Stephen Goldenberg
Apr 06, 2016 Stephen Goldenberg rated it it was ok
Having very much liked Netherlands and read the enthusiastic reviews for his latest novel, I was looking forward to reading this. My only reservation was the Dubai setting - not a place I've been keen to visit plus the few middle eastern expat novels I've read have been disappointing (e.g. Hologram for a King - Dave Eggers). And I'm afraid this too disappointed. I read it to the. End even though I was tempted to abandon it halfway through (I very rarely give up on novels).
The blurb contains a n
This is a fairly odd novel, pitched somewhere between JG Ballard and David Foster Wallace in tone - set in the post-modern paradise of Dubai, where you can live an idyllic life, built on the limitless availability of cheap, rights-free labour (and no taxes), in conditions of almost perfect market freedom. It features a nameless but endlessly self-interrogating anti-hero (a lawyer in exile from NYC after a broken affair, or a 'murdered' marriage as his ex puts it) who ties us in knots with his ...more
Catherine Hurst
Mar 22, 2015 Catherine Hurst rated it liked it
The only reason I rated this book 3 stars (instead of 1 or 2) was that there was much quite lovely writing, and many humorous sections that made me laugh out loud. But I was so disappointed by the ending, and the non-resolution of any of the issues raised in the book, that I felt severely cheated.

I started reading "The Dog" on a recent trip to Dubai, persuaded by its high ranking in various prizewinning fiction lists, and its treatment of the city I was visiting. I do think the author does a goo
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There is more than one author with this name on Goodreads.

Joseph O'Neill was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1964 and grew up in Mozambique, South Africa, Iran, Turkey, and Holland. His previous works include the novels This is the Life and The Breezes, and the non-fiction book Blood-Dark Track, a family history centered on the mysterious imprisonment of both his grandfathers during World
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“...only a lunatic would fail to distinguish between himself and his representative self. This banal distinction may be most obvious in the workplace, where invariably one must avail oneself of an even-tempered, abnormally industrious dummy stand-in who, precisely because it is a dummy, makes life easier for all the others, who are themselves present, which is to say, represented, by dummies of their own.” 2 likes
“the general ignominy that is the corollary of insight, i.e., the ignominy of having thus far lived in error, of having failed, until the moment of so-called insight, to understand what could have been understood earlier, an ignominy only deepened by prospective shame, because the moment of insight serves as a reminder that more such moments lie ahead, and that one always goes forward in error.” 1 likes
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