When the narrator of Joseph O’Neill’s fourth novel, The Dog, accepts a shady job in Dubai, he is merely escaping a broken relationship. However, he finds himself strangely at home in that “abracadabrapolis” (the book is worth reading for that phrase alone), perhaps because Dubai is a microcosm of our globalized world.
Between signing papers he barely comprehends and staring at the inexplicable building rising across the way, the everyman narrator expounds, in sharp, astoundingly funny language, on the impossibility of living a moral life; we are all in the doghouse in one way or another. The cast of characters—a missing diver, a bidoon, a liver-eating millionaire—is rich, but the heart of the novel lies in its vast intelligence, which, for all its Wodehousian humor, pulses with real despair and tenderness for the world we have made, the one that is slowly destroying us. The Dog, published by Pantheon, comes out September 9.