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A Boy, His Dog and Echoes Of 'Hamlet'

Book Tour is a Web feature and podcast. Each week, we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Everyone loves a dog story (at least, everyone should), and everyone loves an author who, after decades of laboring in obscurity, hits it big with his very first novel.

The New York Times marveled at The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, calling it "a great, big, mesmerizing read." The Chicago Tribune dubbed it "meaty and masterly," and, to wit, "the best work of fiction ever written about dogs." The shades of Jack London, John Steinbeck and Franz Kafka may be barking in protest, but critics nationally are predicting big literary bones for author David Wroblewski.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is about a boy and his dog, and if you think that sounds prosaic, think again. This boy is mute, and this dog is his voice and his protector. It's a special dog: a Sawtelle, a breed engineered by Edgar's kennel-running relatives.

The novel is set in Wisconsin, on the edge of the Chequamegon National Forest and on the border of the Iron Range, where the author himself grew up. Wroblewski supported himself for years as a software developer as he worked on this novel. As a writer, he evokes not only the landscape of his upbringing but the books that shaped him, ranging from boys' wilderness adventure stories to Hamlet.

This reading of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle took place in June 2008 at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.
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