Dogs at the Perimeter

Dogs at the Perimeter

A Novel

Book - 2011
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"Remember this night," he said. "Mark it in your memories because tomorrow everything changes."

One starless night, a girl's childhood was swept away by the terrors of the Khmer Rouge. Exiled from the city, she and her family were forced to live out in the open under constant surveillance. Each night, people were taken away. Caught up in a political storm which brought starvation to millions, tore families apart, and changed the world forever, she lost everyone she loved.

Three decades later, Janie's life in Montreal is unravelling. Haunted by her past, she has abandoned her husband and son and taken refuge in the home of her friend, the brilliant, troubled scientist, Hiroji Matsui. In 1970, Hiroji's brother, James, travelled to Cambodia and fell in love. Five years later, the Khmer Rouge came to power, and James vanished. Brought together by the losses they endured, Janie and Hiroji had found solace in each another. And then, one strange day, Hiroji disappeared.

Engulfed by the memories she thought she had fled, Janie must struggle to find grace in a world overshadowed by the sorrows of her past.

Beautifully realized, deeply affecting, Dogs at the Perimeter evokes totalitarianism through the eyes of a little girl and draws a remarkable map of the mind's battle with memory, loss, and the horrors of war. It confirms Madeleine Thien as one of the most gifted and powerful novelists writing today.

Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 2011
ISBN: 9780771084089
Branch Call Number: F THI NVD
Characteristics: 253 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

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tanner Nov 10, 2017

Not just at Remembrance day, but every day: the tale portrays the pain , suffering, and disruption to life, destruction of family and generational damage left to those who survive countries at war.

Dec 12, 2016

Thien writes well, but the story's subject matter simply couldn't interest me enough to finish the book.

Oct 20, 2016

Such ordinary writing. Reads more like a set of notes than a completed book. The emphasis is on emotion, and not characters or story (or prose). I heard the author speak at uOttawa HML509 a couple of weeks ago and she said she was proud of this book, so that's why I chose it, but I won't read any more by her.

BPLNextBestAdults Jun 05, 2012

Beautifully written novel about the Cambodian genocide and how it affected the psyches of three of its victims. These victims are damaged by the Cambodian conflict and decades later are still affected by it. The narrative is told through flashbacks and dreams and weaves scenes from wintry Montreal and from the tropical heat of Cambodia.
Janie’s life begins to unravel when her friend and mentor Hiroji vanishes from the research institute that they both work at. She moves into Hiroji apartment and discovers papers about Hiroji’s brother James who went to Vietnam during the conflict and never returned. These papers reawaken the trauma that Janie went through in Cambodia where she was the sole survivor in her family to escape from Cambodia.
Appeal factors: strong characterization and beautiful poetic writing style.

Jan 15, 2012

" Here is a modest-sized fiction with outsized ambitions." Charles Foran Globe and Mail May 6 2011.
I agree with this assessment. Painfully self-conscious writing.
Gave up early on.

May 30, 2011

Her prose is a little too "precious" for me....she writes as though she is intent on creating art....but, not just art...a masterpiece. As a result, there is a lot of "see....see how beautiful that sentence is??.....I can write, can't I.....can't I??"

debwalker May 07, 2011

"The beauty of Madeleine Thien’s prose doesn’t reside only in its clarity and elegance. She’s a surveyor of damaged lives, and her characters no longer possess the requisite layers of skin to protect them from what they have endured, and what they remember. Thien, a deeply empathetic writer, enfolds her wounded creations in morally precise language, offering the consolation of, in effect, storytelling. Dogs at the Perimeter is the young Montreal-based writer’s second novel. It aims to render intimate a catastrophe the scale of the Cambodian genocide, and to inhabit the psyches of three of its victims. Add to this a time frame of several decades, with much of the narrative told via flashbacks and dreams, along with scene changes from wintry Canada to tropical Cambodia. Here is a modest-sized fiction with outsized ambitions."
Charles Foran
Globe and Mail May 6 2011

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