Sirius: The Little Dog Who Almost Changed History
Sirius, Jonathan Crown’s debut novel, first appeared in Germany in 2014. Having made the bestseller list there, the book is now available in English. In Germany in 1938, an utterly charming fox terrier observes the changes taking place in Berlin. His owners, the Lilliencrons, realize it’s not safe to be a Jewish dog during these times, so they change his name to Sirius, after the “big dog in the sky.”
As conditions for the Jews continue to deteriorate, the family, along with Sirius, decides to flee Germany and head for safety in the U.S. They end up in Hollywood, and through a series of mishaps, Sirius becomes a movie star. But, the world being what it is, Sirius is once again returned to Germany, where, though terrified, the little dog wins the love of the Führer himself.
Watching the horrors of Nazism through the eyes of an innocent dog makes the whole business quite intimidating. Something about the juxtaposition of the rampant hatred of one group of humans for another against the loyalty and unconditional love of a dog places evil in even starker contrast with good. The scene that stands out as the most chilling, for me at least, is the Night of Broken Glass, when unruly mobs smash the Jewish ghetto with such violence and hatred that even the dog is shaking. It makes me wonder if such a scene could happen here, in the U.S, where the threads of civility are fraying as various groups rail against each other.
This grown-up fairy tale, simply written yet deeply complex, is a quick, easy read. That said, this story, and Sirius, will haunt you long after you’ve closed the book.