Monday, February 09, 2015

Reader's Diary #1118- Omar El-Kiddi, translated by Robin Moger: The Wonderful Short Life of the Dog Ramadan


I couldn't help but think of Laika, the graphic novel by Nick Abadzis, as I began to read Omar El-Kiddi's "The Short Life of the Dog Ramadan." Then I briefly thought of the Lady and the Tramp. Then Forrest Gump. This is not to say that El-Kiddi offers nothing in the way of originality, because I'm sure it makes for an original compilation and in the end, I'd conclude that it's certainly more than a sum of its parts.

Still, I enjoyed these comparisons as I read. Why do dog personalities seem so matter-of-fact in literature? Like furry Spocks. And what is it about a highly factual tone that makes a story feel like a parable? Was "The Wonderful Short Life of the Dog Ramadan" a parable?

I didn't (surprise, surprise) come up with hard and fast answers, but I quite enjoyed the surface level story in any case. The sub-surface story is where it gets intriguing because I think it may come down to whether or not one is a "dog person" (perhaps animal appreciator in general) or not if one finds El-Kiddi's story an optimistic or cynical piece. That both of these viewpoints could possibly be found in the same story and it still makes sense, depending entirely on the reader, is quite a feat.

For me, I'm somewhere in between, but I have to say that the briefness of the scene involving African and Arab refugees aboard a boat I find hard to reconcile with my optimistic side.

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