Vintage Contemporaries

The Dog

A Novel

Publisher: Vintage

A New York Times Notable Book
Nominated for the Man Booker Prize

In this extraordinary, both comic and philosophically profound novel, the acclaimed author of Netherland uncovers the hidden contours of a glittering Middle Eastern city—and the quiet dilemmas of modernity. When our unnamed hero, a self-sabotaging and oddly existential lawyer, finds his life in New York falling apart, he seizes an opportunity to flee to Dubai, taking a mysterious job for a fabulously wealthy Lebanese family. As he struggles with his position as the “family officer” of the capricious Batros brothers, he also struggles with the “doghouse,” a condition of culpability in which he feels trapped, even as he composes endless electronic correspondence—both sent and unsent—in an attempt to find a way out.

An unforgettable fable for our globalized times, The Dog is told with Joseph O’Neill’s hallmark eloquence, empathy, and stylistic mastery.


Perhaps because of my growing sense of the inefficiency of life lived on land and in air, of my growing sense that the accumulation of experience amounts, when all is said and done and pondered, simply to extra weight, so that one ends up dragging oneself around as if imprisoned in one of those Winnie the Pooh suits of...

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The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of The Dog¸ bestselling author Joseph O’Neill’s darkly comic novel about a man who takes a job in the spectacularly futuristic yet oddly disconnected city of Dubai in an attempt to...
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“A brilliant satire.” —The Boston Globe

“Fascinating. . . . Explor[es] deep questions about ethics and happiness in a globalized age.” —Chicago Tribune

“A mordantly funny and, surprisingly for these times, deeply moral tale of lost love and economic betrayal.” —John Banville, The Guardian (London)
“Brilliant. . . . A devastating portrait of a man and world stuck in a moral impasse.” —NPR

“A mix of Martin Amis and Thomas Bernhard. . . . With a consummate elegance, The Dog turns in on itself in imitation of the dreadful circling and futility of consciousness itself. . . . Its wit and brio keep us temporarily more alive than we usually allow ourselves to be.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Bleak and funny. . . . O’Neill is a brilliant stylist.” —Slate

“Engrossing. . . . Wonderfully droll. . . . An office-computer version of Saul Bellow’s Herzog.” —Entertainment Weekly (A-)

“Stylish and funny, a linguistic romp.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Enraged, brutal, witty, brilliant." —The Sunday Times (London)

“Compelling. . . . Brilliant.” —The Daily Beast

“Astoundingly constructed. . . . Wonderfully light-footed and funny, and frequently poignant.” —Buffalo News

“Alluring. . . . Striking.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A shimmering portrait of modernity.” —The Guardian (London)

“Our existential hero has a Beckettian soul. . . . O’Neill’s prose is never less than exacting and exalted. . . . O’Neill, more than any other writer in English, inhabits a global world effortlessly.” —The Irish Times 

“A humorous meditation on the dialects of attention and distraction in the modern world, O’Neill’s work playfully skewers the global economy of consumption and our abstract notions of responsibility in its perpetuation.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Shades of Kafka and Conrad permeate O’Neill’s thoughtful modern fable of exile.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Pitch-perfect prose. . . . Clever, witty, and profoundly insightful, this is a beautifully crafted narrative about a man undone by a soulless society.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)