cover image Here Come the Dogs

Here Come the Dogs

Omar Musa. New Press (Perseus, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-62097-117-8

This gritty, energetic debut novel comes from Malaysian Australian hip-hop artist and poet Musa. Three childhood friends who live and carouse in Australia’s blue-collar suburbs spend a long, hot summer getting their adult acts together. Aleks Janeski, married with children, is a violent petty criminal/enforcer who works a legitimate day job as a house painter and longs for returning with his family to his Macedonia homeland. A high school basketball star before an injury cut his playing career short, Solomon Amosa is an underemployed Samoan dishwasher who loves to party while he keeps his interests alive in his favorite sport. Solomon’s erratic half-brother, Jimmy Amosa, works at a public service call-in center, dreams of purchasing a Dodge muscle car, and indulges his strong passion for hip-hop music. The friends like to hang out and do things like paint artful graffiti on public walls, but Aleks’s strong-arm crimes catch up to him. He serves two months of prison time, during which Solomon refuses to come and visit him. The friends are dramatically shown going in their separate directions, and, unfortunately, not all of their choices are productive ones. Musa narrates large portions of his story in accessible hip-hop lyrics, lending his novel its edgy, contemporary flavor. This is fully realized depiction of how art and life inform each other. (Jan.)