Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien

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It's never clear who is searching for whom; but it captures the random terror and chaos of Year Zero and presents a credible portrait of Phnom Penh – "A once-elegant city that now sleeps with one eye open like Cain dreaming of Abel."
-Guardian

Synopsis

 “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.

 

About Madeleine Thien

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Madeline Thien, 26, is the Canadian born daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants. She holds and MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She live in Vancouver, BC.
 
Published May 3, 2011 by McClelland & Stewart. 264 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Dogs at the Perimeter
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Alfred Hickling on Feb 15 2013

It's never clear who is searching for whom; but it captures the random terror and chaos of Year Zero and presents a credible portrait of Phnom Penh – "A once-elegant city that now sleeps with one eye open like Cain dreaming of Abel."

Read Full Review of Dogs at the Perimeter | See more reviews from Guardian

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Charles Foran on Aug 24 2012

Interestingly, Thien tells such bracing, shattering tales of Cambodian lives that the impulse is to race ahead, to find out what happens next.

Read Full Review of Dogs at the Perimeter | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on May 06 2011

A sense of resolution must emerge from the various elements in the novel itself. It is difficult to feel that resolution, mostly because the characters are shadowy to begin with, too lacking in distinctive human personality, quite apart from their experience of Cambodia.

Read Full Review of Dogs at the Perimeter | See more reviews from National Post arts

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