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Dog-Heart Paperback – 2 Feb 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd (2 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845231236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845231231
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.8 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is a haunting and moving story of the divide between those who have and those who do not and the difficulties of reaching across that divide. The writer gives us a sensitive portrayal of the complexities of race and class in Jamaica . . . as she explores one woman's attempt to make a difference in the life of a young man from a disadvantaged community." --Judges' report, JCDC Creative Writing Competition

About the Author

Diana McCaulay is a writer, a newspaper columnist, and an environmental activist. She is the recipient of the 2005 Euan P. McFarlane Award for Outstanding Environmental Leadership in the Insular Caribbean and the chief executive of the Jamaican Environmental Trust.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Generally, the two sections of Kingston society co-exist, but have very little meaningful interaction.  This sensitive and thoughtful novel explores what happens when a middle-class woman tries to get involved in the lives of a family from the slums.  McCaulay exposes many of the the unthinking attitudes the 'haves' display towards the 'have nots', and should give many Kingstonians food for thought.  She remains clear-eyed and uncompromising throughout, and the book pulls no punches.  

The novel is gripping and beautifully written.  The characters spring from the page and stay with the reader long after the book is finished.   It deserves a wide readership.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
... Novels I've come across to explore very effectively the yawning chasm between the 'browning' upper middle class of Jamaica and the ghetto poor. Very movingly told. Nice job, Diana McCaulay. I really enjoyed Huracan too. This woman can really tell a story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Could not put it down! 3 Aug. 2010
By Broox - Published on
Format: Paperback
A young teenage boy growing up in the ghetto of Jamaica meets an "uptown" woman whose life seems empty. She decides to try to save the boy. But is she capable of changing the life of someone she knows nothing about? Can she ever really know what he thinks or how he really lives? And does she try?

The story is told from two points of view: that of the impoverished Jamaican child of the ghetto, Dexter, and that of the "uptown" woman living a decent, but what she thinks, empty life, Sahara. Their lives collide in a parking lot and will be forever changed. Or will they? The story is not so much about fate as it is about transcendence. It's not really about can Sahara help Dexter escape from his life as much as can Dexter, by himself, evolve from it. And how does that affect Sahara?

You'll have to read the book to find out. I don't want to spoil anything. But I will say that once you pick it up, you'll keep going until you're done. It's the kind of book that makes you want to know what's going to happen to all of the people involved. You get caught in their stories and in their lives.

The best part of the book is the boy, Dexter. He is a fully realized person who shows you what it is like to be him and live in his world. He is complex and layered, and you fall in love with his innocent wisdom and his old soul. Sahara was not as like-able to me, but she was equally complex. I found myself mad at her more than once. She seemed sometimes to be so out of touch with what she was trying to accomplish, but that's because we knew what Dexter was thinking and she didn't. That was not a flaw in the book. It was a flaw in Sahara. But these are things for you to decide once you've read this book.

And you'll want to read it. It's a great read! Considering the gravity of the material, the book is still fast paced and energetic. And it's exceptionally well written; the characters show you their lives, not just tell you about them. You live inside of Dexter's world. You see it through his eyes. He took me out of my safe house and put me in a foreign land. I even had to learn his language to some extent. (Don't let the patois put you off of reading this novel. Once you get into the rythym of the voices, it's easy to hear them and understand the language. The book would have been so much less without it.)

The book is written with the authentic voice of poverty in Jamaica. You sense that the author has lived in at least one of the bodies of her main characters.

It's engaging and enlightening and heartbreaking. It's a beautiful piece of work.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Quick-paced, vivid, and emotional 10 May 2010
By J. Vincent - Published on
Format: Paperback
I do not consider myself a reader, but this book gave me that "can't put it down" feeling. The short chapters offer the reader quick and exciting back-and-forth perspectives from the two main characters. Their thoughts and dialogue do an excellent job of giving the reader a insight into the stark divide between social and economic classes of Jamaica and the fact that opportunities, choices, and consequences are relative to all of us, living anywhere.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Powerful, thoughtful, sadly realistic 26 April 2010
By Vicky - Published on
Format: Paperback
A powerful book, thoughtfully written with details about all sides of life in Kingston. The book is beautifully written. The author has her pulse on the details of what life is like for impoverished families and children living in a Kingston ghetto, as well as on the attitudes held by many who live lives of privilege there. The book contains a great deal of patois; more than might be comfortable for the average American or British speaker of English, and less than make it completely accurate for one who knows the dialect. But, if you can, persevere. It's definitely worth it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Dog-Heart 1 July 2010
By Roz Slovic - Published on
Format: Paperback
Dog-Heart is a wonderful book. I could hardly put it down and did not want it to end. The author so very well captured the voice- the heart of the child and, also,
voice and heart of the woman who befriended him and his family. Although this story takes place in Jamaica, the people portrayed could be living anywhere in the world. This is a must read...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Too real for comfort 24 Oct. 2012
By cranky granny - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Diana McCaulay writes with the frustrated love that only decades of breaking your heart over Jamaica can produce. Her prose is lean and vivid, and her ear for language unerring.

The real tragedy in Dog-Heart is not so much the fate of the two young brothers, but the failure of their would-be benefactor to understand it. Efforts to "help the disadvantaged" are always doomed when the helpers assume that their own standards are the ones to which everyone should aspire. Armed with knowledge but no understanding, they try to make the "disadvantaged" something they are not and it seldom ends well.

Every society has at least two solitudes and Jamaica has even more. Dog-Heart portrays these social divisions honestly and with as little judgement as is humanly possible. In the end there is still the unconscious arrogance of "us" and the simmering resentment of "them", all wanting to get on with our lives and not understanding why we make it so hard for each other.
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