Feed My Dear Dogs begins in outright observational comedy and slides into ever darker regions, while never losing its sharp tongue and wicked wit. Jem Weiss is the middle child of five and experiences childhood more acutely, more joyously and more entertainingly than most. The five Weiss siblings crackle with intelligence, camaraderie, competitiveness and individuality; they have their own running gags, jargon, skits and power struggles; they share a bearlike but adored father and an unflappable and omnicompetent mother.
Jem’s life hums with Shackleton and supernovas, boxing and cowboys, binocular doughnuts and naval underwear and at the centre of this galaxy of delights is her shining family. As Jem runs her childhood memories through her fingers, she entrances the reader with sharp observations, casual wisdom and tender wit. However, there’s always something else looming, and now and again it sneaks up with some pressing tidings to impart – a child’s terror at the prospect of moving on, growing up, leaving home.
Reviews of Feed My Dear Dogs
‘Emma Richler has written a masterpiece; a brilliant and deeply moving novel that defies description.’ Matthew Alexander, Sunday Telegraph
‘Jem’s voice is a great accomplishment: confiding, ingenuous, with a convincing thirst for answers and approval’ Scotland on Sunday
Emma Richler ‘tackles another surprisingly difficult subject: how to write about a childhood that is almost idyllically stable and loving. She does so with warmth and some brilliant left-field humour’ Jonathan Coe, Guardian
‘In such an inward looking novel, much depends on the authenticity of the child’s voice. Richler pulls this off with panache’ Daily Telegraph
‘This is a glorious hymn of praise to family, determindly and sometimes troublingly setting out to prove Tolstoy wrong. This is a book about growing up, and Richler uses a charming and cunning conflation of mature and immature vocabulary to capture childhood confusions. For all Jem’s anxieties, this is a joyful book about a joyful family that sees the goodness in nearly everyone. But – the real sting in the tale – maybe you can love your family too much’ Jonathan Myerson, Independent
‘That gap between inside and outside – of the body, of the mind and of the family – is what powers this dramatic intense novel. Emma Richler’s impressive and ambitious recapturing of youth brings us a family that is unlikely to resemble our own, but that is presented to us by a voice that seems immediately familiar’ Alex Clark, TLS