The Dog Who Dared To Dream by Sun-mi Hwang, translated from the Korean by Chi Young-Kim
Written by international bestselling author Sun-mi Hwang, The Dog Who Dared To Dream is the tale of a dog and her master.
Scraggly is one of five pups born to an ailing mother. She has a scruffy black coat, and is the only one left behind when her family are dognapped. She forms a special relationship with her owner, an elderly man she calls Grandpa Screecher. Scraggly has dreams, of the wind and what lies beyond the gates of her sun-drenched yard, of motherhood and of friendship.
Told from the point of view of a puppy as she grows into adulthood, The Dog who Dared to Dream offers a refreshing and intriguing perspective on life. Scraggly watches as Grandpa Screecher’s son comes to visit, bringing his children and leaving too soon. She hears arguments; she walks the streets waiting for Grandpa to return home on his bicycle. Colours are less important than the smells. It is a fascinating new perspective of the world.
At the core of the story is the notion of family. Scraggly is an outsider, yet she loves her brothers and sisters and tries to protect them. She loves Grandpa Screecher. She doesn’t much like the old cat next door, but happily trades insults over the fence. Despite her determination to be happy, and to cling on to her dreams, each winter darkness descends and Scraggly has to face the challenges put before her.
This book is beautifully written with a parable-like quality. Don’t think it’s a children’s book just because the narrator is a dog. It is a novel about loss, hardship, hunger, heartbreak… and family. Throughout it all, Scraggly and Grandpa Screecher rely on each other for a sort of abstract comfort. The translation, and knowing that it was written embedded in another culture, adds another layer of mystery and nuances that enhance the tale.
The novel is no longer than 180 odd pages: you can do that in one sitting! I would highly recommend this book.
Written by Bea Harvie
Image copyright: Abacus
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham