Rating: 2.5 out of 3
Now, before I started this novella, I thought that it would be about a real live dog...but no, another deceiving title. We are immediately advised, by the narrator, that the 'Spotted Dog' is in fact a hilly cliff on an island that resembles a spotted dog. The book is actually about a few things. On the surface, it is about a traditional father-son-uncle-elder seal hunt that goes horribly wrong. However, as this is a work by Chingiz Aitmatov, the whole narration is interspersed with ancient (Central Asian?) legends ("The Legend of the Creation of Dry Land by a Duck", "The Legend of the Fish-Woman who was the progenitor of the family's clan, etc.). We also, in typical Aitmatov style, have the present-day narration interrupted and linked to flashbacks from the past of all of the main characters (e.g. flashbacks of the boy's childhood, the Father's relationship with his wife, etc.)
Aitmatov also uses his device of continuously repeating certain lines in the book in order to make the narrative more fairy-tale like.
I believe that this book is ultimately about how there is endless continuity in the world, e.g.:
-the sea endlessly does battle with dry land
-children endlessly continue the lineage of their parents, and their parents never truly die, as they continue to live through their offspring
The book truly picked up speed and was unputdownable towards the end, when interestingly enough, the present-day narrative turned into legend, before the readers' eyes. This is Aitmatov's gift- he is able to bring the past and legend into the present-day so masterfully and even turn the present-day into legend. The ending was heartwarming and unforgettable. This little novella gets a 2.5 out of 3, all the way.