From “a truly new voice, delivered with rare panache” comes a debut novel with the caustic energy of Philip Roth and the pitch-perfect wit of Kingsley Amis and Evelyn Waugh.
"Damian Tarnopolsky's style is essentially witty: it combines observation and action in a way that is so elegant, so articulate and yet light of touch that one is hardly aware of its complexity. And he has made a book about a troubled person and a particularly turbulent place in history, a book about Canada as seen by an Englishman, a book about art and war and desire, that is both funny and sad."
"Sarcastic, self-destructive, yet strangely endearing, Edward Dacres is the best kind of anti-hero -- the kind you can't forget. Who'd have thought a book about art and Toronto would be a page-turner? And yet it is, as we watch, riveted, to see if Dacres is going to fail or succeed. In crystaline prose, and with affectionate satire, Tarnopolsky deftly leads the reader forward, and twists this tale of a down-and-out British painter into a glorious celebration of life's simpler beauties."
–Miguel Syjuco, Author of Ilustrado
Edward Dacres is an unforgettable anti-hero, a pretentious, dissolute abstract painter whose fortunes in London have dwindled to nothing by the autumn of 1939. When a misdirected letter invites him to take part in a delegation to bring Art to the “Colonies”, Dacres seizes the opportunity to leave England—never mind that the delegation’s patrons have confused him with a better-known painter of foxes and hounds.
Once in North America, however, a series of mishaps forces Dacres to abandon the troupe and try his luck in the puritan climate of 1939 Toronto, most of whose citizens have their thoughts on the war, and don’t care a whit for his painted triangles. Most, that is, with the notable exception of a beautiful heiress with an eye for art and a willful determination to save Dacres from himself.
Goya’s Dog is a love story laced with satire, and a historical novel bearing on contemporary truths. A picaresque tale of gin, cowardice, and artistic paralysis, it toys with our notions of the artist’s role in times of war and considers the selfishness inherent in our passions—and the self-sacrifice fundamental to love.
- Penguin Canada/Hamish Hamilton Canada, August 2009
- Beobook, Serbia
Shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize
Shortlisted for the 2010 Amazon First Novel Award
Praise for Goya's Dog
"...a compelling story of an artist at war with himself."
--Quill & Quire
"Tarnopolsky makes much black humour of Dacres's excruciating ways"
--The Globe and Mail
"I was most struck by the sustained excellence of your prose. There is a deftness to your sense of pace and imagery that we associate with writers very much at home with their craft. I also chuckled and laughed several times (especially over horses jumping horses), and I thought a lot about the characterization of Dacres. It seemed to me that you were out for bigger game with him than the reviews that I then read on the internet capture, and this seemed confirmed for me when I looked up the painting, Goya's Dog. As a historian I often dislike fiction set in the past, because the author's sense of history is usually so bad. I didn't have this feeling at all with your also deft recreation of Toronto, which seemed to me admirably minimalist."
-Michael Bliss, Historian
Praise for Lanzmann and Other Stories
“In his debut story collection, Damian Tarnopolsky often writes like a dazzling fallen angel. The sparks of offences that stream from his imagined Cesar Lanzmann. . .are virtual, but as real (and bracing, and laugh-out-loud convulsive) as offense gets. . . With this first story in my head, I listened to Tarnopolsky plucking at my shopworn critical synapses, and asked why he made them sing in a way several prize contenders haven't. The answer is that he's a truly new voice, delivered with a rare panache. . . the book worth re-reading to catch all its clues.”
—The Globe and Mail
“[Tarnopolsky's stories] not only display an ironic sensibility, but also deomstrate a prose style that owes much to the influence of Kafka. . . .This is absurdist comedy at its best. . . At turns surreal, serio-comic whimsical and erotic, Tarnopolsky's stories hurtle headlong into the heart of our myths--about class, gender, freedom. . . --and reveal that the truth waiting for us is not what we'd expect.”
“When writers try to capture a Toronto brand of corruption, of sleazy suits and ponytailed men, usually only a CTV-level of pseudo grit is achieved. What in other hands is embarrassing (and embarrassed) is assured and malicious in Lanzmann and Other Stories (Exile Editions, 142 pages, $19.95), the fiction debut by Damian Tarnopolsky. Tarnopolsky’s protagonists are slowly revealed though eloquent writing and, by story’s end, the recipients of inventive comeuppances. . .Tarnopolsky may capture very real worlds and emotions but he allows just enough conjecture to make original turns. . .Tarnopolsky writes perfect, twisty sentences . . there’s authority, Nabokovian play and bawdiness to these tales . . And if this desperately earnest town needs one thing, it’s satire that takes itself seriously.”
“Tarnopolsky loves his characters for their flaws, not despite them, and the reader too is compelled . . . the characters are finely fleshed out, the dialogue is fluid and believable, and the structures are clever and interesting . . . proof of Tarnopolsky's skill, insight and wit.”
—Quill & Quire
“Lanzmann and Other Stories is smart and funny and crass and intelligent. There is sour humour in these stories and bitter discovery. Tarnopolsky is full of form and new feeling. Highly recommended.”
“Full of sex and music, cynicism and beauty, absurdity and perfect order, cities and conversation and diversity, Tarnopolsky's elegant stories are darkly brilliant reflections of our darkly glittering age.”