The Boy and the Dog

Books on Tape. Nov. 2022. tr. from Japanese by Alison Watts. 6 hrs. ISBN 9780593629079. $66.50. F
In the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 tsunami, earthquake, and Fukushima nuclear disaster, a dog appears at a convenience store. The dog wears a collar with the name Tamon, in reference to the guardian deity of the north. Tamon, a German Shepherd mix, is adopted by a number of people—a gambler, a thief, a negligent husband, a sex worker, an old man, and finally, a little boy—during his five-year journey southward. Tamon helps each person who rescues him along the way, easing pain, finding hope, acknowledging failings, meeting death, and healing the soul. At Tamon’s last stop, a man finds the dog and takes him home. His son, a six-year-old who has not spoken since the tsunami, suddenly finds his voice and recovers from his trauma and fear. Beautifully read by narrator Akie Kotabe, Hase’s tender story of a dog on a mission to be in the right place at the right time is poignant and affecting.
VERDICT Hase’s English-language debut, depicting the enduring bond between humans and dogs, will appeal to listeners looking for stories of redemption, love, and courage. Highly recommended.
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