Barefoot Dogs

Stories

Barefoot Dogs

Winner of the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters * A San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book of 2015 * Fiction Finalist for the 2015 Writers’ League of Texas Book Awards * A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015 * One of the Texas Observer’s “Five Books We Loved in 2015” * One of PRI’s “The World’s Five Books You Should Read in 2016”

“Profound and wrenching…A deeply moving chronicle of one family’s collective devastation, full of remarkable wisdom and humor” (The New York Times Book Review) that follows the members of a wealthy Mexican family after their patriarch is kidnapped.

On an unremarkable night, José Victoriano Arteaga—the head of a thriving Mexico City family—vanishes on his way home from work. The Arteagas find few answers; the full truth of what happened to Arteaga is lost to the shadows of Mexico’s vast underworld. But soon packages arrive to the family house, offering horrifying clues.

Fear, guilt, and the prospect of financial ruin fracture the once-proud family and scatter them across the globe, yet delicate threads still hold them together: in a swimming pool in Palo Alto, Arteaga’s grandson struggles to make sense of the grief that has hobbled his family; in Mexico City, Arteaga’s mistress alternates between rage and heartbreak as she waits, in growing panic, for her lover’s return; in Austin, the Arteagas’ housekeeper tries to piece together a second life in an alienating new land; in Madrid, Arteaga’s son takes his dog through the hot and unforgiving streets, in search of his father’s ghost.

A stunningly original exploration of the wages of a hidden war, Barefoot Dogs is a heartfelt elegy to the stolen innocence of every family struck by tragedy. Urgent and vital fiction, “these powerful stories are worthy of rereading in order to fully digest the far-reaching implications of one man’s disappearance…this singular book affords the reader the chance to step inside a world of privilege and loss, and understand how the two are inextricably intertwined” (San Francisco Chronicle).
  • Scribner | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476784977 | 
  • March 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Barefoot Dogs includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

On a day like any other, José Victoriano Arteaga—the patriarch of a large, well-to-do Mexican family—disappears on his way home from work and is never heard from again. When strange boxes begin to arrive at the family home, his children are forced to flee. They scatter across the globe leaving almost everything behind while clinging desperately to their memories of a different time and place. The lives of the “domestics” employed by the family are also turned upside down now that they have lost their jobs and their home as a consequence of the family’s exile. Arteaga’s mistress must come to terms with her lover’s disappearance while struggling with the day-to-day challenges of raising the child who haunts her with his uncanny resemblance to his missing father—and his insistence that he has seen him. In their places of exile—both physical and emotional—each character struggles to adapt and to come to terms with the tragedy that has befallen them and changed their life forever. With courage, candor, an see more

About the Author

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
© Joel Salcido

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho has worked as a journalist in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. A 2009 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University and a 2014 Dobie Paisano Fellow in Fiction, Ruiz-Camacho earned his MFA from the New Writers Project at the University of Texas at Austin. He is from Toluca, Mexico, and lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.

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