In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark

In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark

A Novel

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In his wildly ambitious and darkly funny debut novel, Jonathan Garfinkel probes the fractured nature of identity, the necessity of lies, and the bloody legacy of the Soviet Empire.  

Spanning generations, continents, and cultures, In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is an electric tale about a nation trying to emerge from the shadow of the Soviet Union to embrace Western democracy. Driven by a complexly plotted mystery that leads from Moscow to Toronto to Tbilisi, punctuated by wild car chases and drunken jazz reveries, and featuring an eccentric cast of characters including Georgian performance artists, Chechen warlords, and KGB spies, Garfinkel delivers a story that questions the price of freedom and laughs at the answer.  

With exhilarating prose reminiscent of Rachel Kushner and more twists than a John le Carré thriller, In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is a daring, nuanced, and spectacularly entertaining novel by an exceptional talent.

In his wildly ambitious and darkly funny debut novel, Jonathan Garfinkel probes the fractured nature of identity, the necessity of lies, and the bloody legacy of the Soviet Empire.  

Spanning generations, continents, and cultures, In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is an electric tale about a nation trying to emerge from the shadow of the Soviet Union to embrace Western democracy. Driven by a complexly plotted mystery that leads from Moscow to Toronto to Tbilisi, punctuated by wild car chases and drunken jazz reveries, and featuring an eccentric cast of characters including Georgian performance artists, Chechen warlords, and KGB spies, Garfinkel delivers a story that questions the price of freedom and laughs at the answer.  

With exhilarating prose reminiscent of Rachel Kushner and more twists than a John le Carré thriller, In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is a daring, nuanced, and spectacularly entertaining novel by an exceptional talent.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Feb 21, 2023
Specifications 424 pages | 5.25 in x 8 in
Written By

JONATHAN GARFINKEL is an award-winning author. His plays include Cockroach (adapted from the novel by Rawi Hage) and House of Many Tongues, nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. The controversial The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret has been performed across Canada, Russia, Ukraine, and Germany. He is the author of the poetry collection Glass Psalms and the chapbook Bociany. His memoir, Ambivalence: Crossing the Israel/Palestine Divide, has been published in numerous countries to wide critical acclaim, and his long-form nonfiction has appeared in the Walrus, Tablet, the Globe and Mail, and PEN International, as well as Cabin Fever: An Anthology of the Best New Canadian Non-Fiction. Named by the Toronto Star as “one to watch,” Garfinkel is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of Medical and Health Humanities at the University of Alberta, where he is writing a memoir about life with type 1 diabetes and the revolutionary open-source Loop artificial pancreas system. He lives in Berlin and Toronto.

Written By

JONATHAN GARFINKEL is an award-winning author. His plays include Cockroach (adapted from the novel by Rawi Hage) and House of Many Tongues, nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. The controversial The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret has been performed across Canada, Russia, Ukraine, and Germany. He is the author of the poetry collection Glass Psalms and the chapbook Bociany. His memoir, Ambivalence: Crossing the Israel/Palestine Divide, has been published in numerous countries to wide critical acclaim, and his long-form nonfiction has appeared in the Walrus, Tablet, the Globe and Mail, and PEN International, as well as Cabin Fever: An Anthology of the Best New Canadian Non-Fiction. Named by the Toronto Star as “one to watch,” Garfinkel is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of Medical and Health Humanities at the University of Alberta, where he is writing a memoir about life with type 1 diabetes and the revolutionary open-source Loop artificial pancreas system. He lives in Berlin and Toronto.


A clear-eyed, elucidating novel of the aftermath of the Soviet Union and the era’s devastating effects on lost, wandering lives. A great read.

” —Rawi Hage, author of Stray Dogs

In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is a gripping, often hilarious, thrill-a-minute romp. This is the kind of novel that will have you forgo sleep to find out what happens next, as decades of secrets and lies are revealed in hypnotic prose. A stunning debut.

” —Zoe Whittall, author of The Fake

A wild, page-turner of a novel from the singular, seductive mind of Jonathan Garfinkel. In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is bold and otherworldly, a serenade for a lost nation, a love song to revolution. Reminiscent of Jennifer Egan’s literary sleight of hand, and Rachel Kushner’s structural and intellectual daring, Garfinkel takes on the legacy of the Soviet Union via a multigenerational mystery, deftly leading us from Moscow to Tbilisi, Charlie Parker to Noam Chomsky, performance art to political theatre –– his humour cutting deeply and darkly through everything and everyone. A wholly electrifying debut from an exhilarating, rebel talent.

” —Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker

Often outrageously funny and politically and philosophically astute, Garfinkel’s novel delves into the tragic history, dramatic geography, and exotic customs of Georgia, a country at the crossroads of East and West. In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is a prescient and timely novel as Georgia’s neighbour Russia resumes its imperial project.

” —Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

Set in a real yet uncanny world, this gripping and deeply compelling story of love — for family, friends, and a free nation — is filled with secrets, discoveries, passion, and humour. Loyalty and betrayal are braided together in a riveting tale of how relationships and nations are never what they seem — and they both change continually, often in surprising and bewildering ways, yet move and inspire. With colourful characters and striking settings, In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is a vivid howl of a novel.

” —Gary Barwin, author of Yiddish for Pirates

Jonathan Garfinkel’s infectious humor and iconoclastic characters make In a Land Without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark an electric read. Replete with Chechen fighters and Russian snoops, one of the most memorable appearances is by former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili who ruminates on local car thieves and the importance of the rule of law as Georgia emerges from the collapse of the Soviet Union to embrace democracy.

” —Viken Berberian, author of Das Kapital: a novel