Renowned author Andre Alexis talks about the transformative power of the imagination

Andre Alexis
Andre Alexis
Andre Alexis
Andre Alexis was the featured writer at the most recent Canadian Writers in Person presentation at York University

On Jan. 17, renowned writer and Giller-prize winning author Andre Alexis visited York University to talk about his book Fifteen Dogs (2015) as part of the Canadian Writers in Person series.

Fifteen Dogs starts with a bet between two Greek gods, Hermes and Apollo, about whether dogs given human intelligence could live happy lives. It then follows the lives and adventures of 15 dogs through various Toronto neighbourhoods.

The writer explained that this book is not really about dog psychology, but about human psychology. The novel is a way to think of the different forms that human intelligence can take and about how humans deal with love, friendship, violence, and death. “Part of what it is to be human is coming to terms with violence and death,” said Alexis.

andre-alexis-fifteen-dogsObsessed with storytelling and the ability of the imagination to transform experiences, Alexis has given readers a novel that examines what it means to be human. 

Alexis’ debut novel, Childhood (1997), won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and was a co-winner of the Trillium Award. Fifteen Dogs won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and it was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards.

In 2014 Alexis published Pastoral, the first in a planned series of five novels on philosophical themes. In this larger five-part project (a quincunx), each novel plays with a specific genre. Fifteen Dogs is an apologue (a moral fable with animals as characters), for instance.

On Jan. 31, acclaimed author Lynn Crosbie will visit York to talk about her book Where Did You Sleep Last Night.

Readings are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Professor Leslie Sanders at or Professor Gail Vanstone at All readings are held Tuesdays from 7 to 9pm in 206 Accolade West Building, Keele campus.