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The Boy and the Dog
by Seishu Hase
Winner of the 163rd (2020) Naoki Prize
Six months after the 2011 tsunami a young man finds a stray German shepherd mix, and takes it home. The dog becomes the companion for him and his mother, who suffers from dementia, for a time before the young man is killed in an accident. A thief is the next temporary owner, followed by a young couple, a prostitute, an old hunter, and finally a young boy – the person the dog has been seeking all along. Six interrelated stories, each set in a different prefecture and depicting the life of each new owner, track the progress of the dog on its epic journey from tsunami-ravaged Tohoku in the north to earthquake-ravaged Kyushu in the south.
Every new owner notes the dog’s intelligence and the desire to go southwest. Where is it going and who is it looking for are the mysteries driving the narrative, which is told from a human perspective. As details of the dog’s origins emerge, it also becomes gradually apparent that the humans whose lives it enters, are struggling and in need of a guardian presence and comfort at crucial times. In this gripping 2020 Naoki Prize-winning novel, Seishu Hase combines his skills as a noir writer with a love for dogs, to create a gritty and moving portrayal of damaged lives and the semi-mythical relationship between humankind and dogs.
About the author
Seishu Hase was born in Hokkaido in 1965 and made his debut with Fujayo (All Night City) in 1996, a novel that was nominated for the Naoki Prize, made into a film, and sealed his reputation as a noir writer. In 1998 he won the Mystery Writers Of Japan Award with Chinkonka (Requiem), and Yakochu (Noctiluca) was nominated for the Naoki Prize. He was nominated six times for the Naoki Prize, and finally succeeded with Shonen to Inu (The Boy and the Dog).