Walking the Dog

Elizabeth Swados (Author)


A "brilliant and layered" novel about a prodigy turned convict turned dog walker in her 40s from the celebrated author of My Depression: A Picture Book (Oprah.com).

A former child prodigy and rich-girl kleptomaniac, eighteen-year-old Ester is incarcerated after her kleptomania gets way out of hand. There, she is given the very gentile name Carleen (for her own protection) and for two decades, time is the enemy. When finally let loose onto the streets of New York, Carleen finds a job as a dog walker in Manhattan's most elite neighborhoods. But despite her remarkable gift for canine communication, Carleen is determined to finally prove that she is a real person. To this end, she tries to reconnect with her estranged--and ferociously Orthodox--daughter.

Amid the strained brunch dates, unsent letters, and the continuing trauma of prison, Carleen begins a slow and halting process of self-discovery. Strikingly funny and self-aware, this belated coming-of-age novel asks the question: How do you restart after crashing your first chance at life?

Product Details

$17.95  $16.51
Feminist Press
Publish Date
June 14, 2016
5.4 X 0.9 X 8.0 inches | 1.05 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways, Elizabeth Swados (1951-2016) composed, wrote and directed for over thirty years. Some of her works include the Obie Award-winning Trilogy at La MaMa, Alice at the Palace with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Theater Festival and Groundhog, which was optioned by Milos Forman for a film. Her work has been performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, and locations all over the world. Swados created issue-oriented theater with young people for her entire career.

She published novels, non-fiction books, and children's books to great acclaim and received a Ken Book Award as well as a New York Public Library Award for My Depression: A Picture Book (Seven Stories Press, 2015). Walking the Dog was her last book.

Other awards include five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, Guggenheim Fellowship, Ford Grant, Helen Hayes Award, Lila Acheson Wallace Grant, PEN Citation, and others.


"[A] funny, edgy, and winning novel [that] introduces an extraordinary narrator... One of a kind. Deserves a big splash and lots of readers." --Kirkus (starred review)

"Brilliant and layered, Swados's posthumous novel asks searching questions about the delicate nature of atonement." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"Told in short, punchy chapters. . . [the] comically touching mini-portraits of the dogs and their owners, are vivid and sharply realized, and Carleen's attempts to forge a bond with her unhappy 11-year-old daughter move at a believably halting pace. . . . [T]he novel's wit and intelligence showcase [Swados's] talent." --Publishers Weekly

"Swados' wild imagination keeps the revelations coming right up to the last page." --Newsday

"A beautiful and enthralling read. It manages to contain genius without presumption, illness without stigma, and characterization without oversimplification. The balance of these empathetic factors makes the novel a true work of art, and a must read." --Lambda Literary Review

"Liz Swados was ahead of everybody. A colossus: a singular and unequaled artist. We will continue to study and learn from her art and gain new appreciation for her brilliance." --Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton