The Lost Dog, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Tom Loxley is holed up in a cottage in the bush, trying to finish his book on Henry James, when his dog goes missing, trailing a length of orange twine.

As Tom searches it becomes clear that he needs to unravel other puzzles in his life and the story shifts between past and present, taking in his parents' mixed-race marriage in India, their arrival in Australia in the 1970s, Tom's own failed marriage, and his current involvement with Nelly Zhang, an artist with her own secrets and mysteries.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008.




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The lost dog of the title is the framework on which the rest of this novel hangs. Tom Locksley has borrowed a remote house in the Australian bush belonging to his friend Nelly Zhang while he finishes his book on Henry James. As he prepares to leave and head back to the city his dog runs into the bush after an animal and becomes lost. The novel follows the Tom over the next two weeks as he searches for his dog and deals at the same time with the increasing realisation that his elderly mother can no longer cope on her own. Interwoven with this is the story of Tom's own origins in India: the son of the British Arthur Locksley, a hard-drinking somewhat ineffectual man, and Iris de Sousa, of mixed Portuguse and Indian descent. Expected to marry a European at all costs, in her thirties Iris is forced to set her sights on the initially unprepossessing Arthur, but in post-independence India Arthur's Englishness is no longer the asset it would once have been. And also interwoven is the story of the Tom's more recent relationship with the artist Nelly Zhang and the group of artists who cluster around her.In particular I enjoyed the story of Iris and Arthur's marriage, and Tom's own childhood in India and then Australia, which illustrate the changing attitudes of the post-colonial world.  But I found Tom's obsession with Nelly Zhang and her art a little tedious: I couldn't see her attraction at all. The book flits backwards and forwards constantly in time and place which means it can be a little difficult to place a particular event, but it was full of beautiful vignettes which I would have loved to quote if I hadn't listened to it on audiobook. So overall, a well-written and interesting novel dealing with questions of identity and belonging, but which fell short of being a great read for me.

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