“Sarcastic, self-destructive, yet strangely endearing, Edward Dacres is the best kind of anti-hero–the kind you can’t forget. Who’d have thought a book about art and Toronto would be a page-turner? And yet it is, as we watch, riveted, to see if Dacres is going to fail or succeed. In crystaline prose, and with affectionate satire, Tarnopolsky deftly leads the reader forward, and twists this tale of a down-and-out British painter into a glorious celebration of life’s simpler beauties.”
-Miguel Syjuco, Author of Ilustrado
Edward Dacres is an unforgettable anti-hero, a pretentious, dissolute abstract painter whose fortunes in London have dwindled to nothing by the autumn of 1939. When a misdirected letter invites him to take part in a delegation to bring Art to the “Colonies”, Dacres seizes the opportunity to leave England—never mind that the delegation’s patrons have confused him with a better-known painter of foxes and hounds.
Once in North America, however, a series of mishaps forces Dacres to abandon the troupe and try his luck in the puritan climate of 1939 Toronto, most of whose citizens have their thoughts on the war, and don’t care a whit for his painted triangles. Most, that is, with the notable exception of a beautiful heiress with an eye for art and a willful determination to save Dacres from himself.
Goya’s Dog is a love story laced with satire, and a historical novel bearing on contemporary truths. A picaresque tale of gin, cowardice, and artistic paralysis, it toys with our notions of the artist’s role in times of war and considers the selfishness inherent in our passions—and the self-sacrifice fundamental to love.
“Damian Tarnopolsky’s style is essentially witty: it combines observation and action in a way that is so elegant, so articulate and yet light of touch that one is hardly aware of its complexity. And he has made a book about a troubled person and a particularly turbulent place in history, a book about Canada as seen by an Englishman, a book about art and war and desire, that is both funny and sad.”
“…a compelling story of an artist at war with himself.”
–Quill & Quire
“Tarnopolsky makes much black humour of Dacres’s excruciating ways”
–The Globe and Mail
“I was most struck by the sustained excellence of your prose. There is a deftness to your sense of pace and imagery that we associate with writers very much at home with their craft. I also chuckled and laughed several times (especially over horses jumping horses), and I thought a lot about the characterization of Dacres. It seemed to me that you were out for bigger game with him than the reviews that I then read on the internet capture, and this seemed confirmed for me when I looked up the painting, Goya’s Dog. As a historian I often dislike fiction set in the past, because the author’s sense of history is usually so bad. I didn’t have this feeling at all with your also deft recreation of Toronto, which seemed to me admirably minimalist.”
-Michael Bliss, Historian
Penguin Canada/Hamish Hamilton Canada, August 2009
Shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize
Shortlisted for the 2010 Amazon First Novel Award