Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger
A Novel

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“The kind of writing that makes us want to read the whole book as soon as possible; a shot of adrenaline that immediately takes us to a new world.”—David Varno, Words Without Borders

Journalist Daniel Mandelkern leaves Hamburg on assignment to interview Dirk Svensson, a reclusive children's book author who lives alone on the Italian side of Lake Lugano with his three-legged dog. Mandelkern has been quarreling with his wife (who is also his editor); he suspects she has other reasons for sending him away.After stumbling on a manuscript of Svensson's about a complicated ménage a trois, Mandelkern is plunged into mysteries past and present. Rich with anthropological and literary allusion, this prize-winning debut set in Europe, Brazil, and New York, tells the parallel stories of two writers struggling with the burden of the past and the uncertainties of the future. Funeral for a Dog won the prestigious Uwe-Johnson Prize, and critics raved: "Pletzinger's debut is a real smash hit. It's been a long time since a young German writer has thrown himself into the hurly-burly of life and literature with so much intelligence and bravado" (Wolfgang Hobel, Der Spiegel).

About Thomas Pletzinger

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Born in 1975, Thomas Pletzinger has won several awards for his writing, including fellowships and teaching positions at the University of Iowa, New York University, and Grinnell College. He lives in Berlin. Ross Benjamin is a writer and translator living in Nyack, New York.
Published March 28, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 337 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Funeral for a Dog

The New York Times

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In this German novel, a children’s book and the dog of the title reflect the tragic history of a menage-a-trois.

Mar 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Funeral for a Dog: A Novel


Thomas Pletzinger’s debut 2008 novel Funeral for a Dog, which has been translated from German by Ross Benjamin and made available to English audiences in March, has quite the thorny premise.

May 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Funeral for a Dog: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Mandelkern is beginning to wonder if there’s an underlying message to these assignments and then he’s told to interview the reclusive Dirk Svensson, the author of a wildly successful illustrated children’s book “The story of Leo and the Notmuch.” Mandelkern protests against the assignment, and wi...

May 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Funeral for a Dog: A Novel

The New Yorker

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May 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Funeral for a Dog: A Novel

Full Stop

As if assuaging the fear that I might be reading too much into the corpus (physical and literary), Mandelkern dovetails his birth-weight-to-hair-loss medical history (an exercise in avoiding doctors) with the pontification, “books are a takeoff into another life over the course of pages, a suspen...

Jul 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Funeral for a Dog: A Novel

Publishing Perspective

It’s a novel about parallel searches for identity and meaning, a recording of the events of a five-day house party, a mystery about the death of a friend, and a chronicle of the slow decline of an elderly, three-legged dog.

Mar 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Funeral for a Dog: A Novel

Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Four years later, when an academic-turned-journalist named Daniel Mandelkern — our other narrator here — travels to Italy to interview Svensson, he finds the onetime fuckup much more grounded: sobered (though not sober) and capable of having created an acclaimed children’s book.

May 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Funeral for a Dog: A Novel

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