Edward Dacres is an abstract painter whose erratic behaviour has reduced a once-shining career to shambles. When, in the opening days of World War Two, a misdirected letter invites "Mr. Davis" to take part in a tour to the Colonies, Dacres seizes the opportunity to leave England.
Dacres is swiftly embroiled in a series of mishaps before abandoning the group to try his luck in Toronto. Unfortunately, most of Toronto's good citizens have their minds on the war and don't much care for his painted triangles. Most, that is, with the exception of a beautiful heiress with an eye for art and a wilful determination to save Dacres from himself.
On the surface a satirical, picaresque tale of gin, cowardice and artistic paralysis, Goya's Dog is ultimately a darker consideration of grief, war, and the self-sacrifice necessary for love.
Nominated for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, 2009.
Nominated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best Book, Canada and the Caribbean, 2010.
“Clever, achingly funny, perfectly calibrated, in that terrain between the farcical and the poignant—I read it in a day.”
–Joan Thomas, author of Curiosity
“Because it's always saying something about the here and now, historical fiction with a satirical edge can sometimes wickedly reveal how little things can change.... Very funny and biting.... Readers across the country will be very interested in this Toronto novel.”
–The Globe and Mail
“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 crystalline 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
“Darkly hilarious.... Damian Tarnopolsky’s meticulously weighted prose creates a vivid impression of his protagonist.”
“I was most struck by the sustained excellence of the prose. There is a deftness to the sense of pace and imagery that we associate with writers very much at home with their craft.... 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 the deft recreation of Toronto in Goya’s Dog, which seemed to me admirably minimalist.”
–Michael Bliss, author of Right Honourable Men
“A vivid portrayal of depression.... Goya’s Dog presents interesting insight into a sad mind and an unimaginable fate for many.”
“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.”
–Russell Smith, author of Muriella Pent
“A compelling story of an artist at war with himself.”
–Quill & Quire