An engaging and memorable social novel that involves dogfighting.


Ghetto Dogs

Romagnoli tells the story of an interconnected group of people in Harlem.

Set in the coarse streets of 1980s Harlem, this debut novel follows a large cast of characters navigating the world of dogfighting, public school, and basketball. There’s Rosco, a feared dogfighting ringleader and loan shark who people know is the most dangerous when he’s smiling; Desiree, the mother of Rosco’s son, who wonders why there aren’t any miracles in real life; Vincent DeRosa, a recovering drug addict–turned–public schoolteacher looking to make a difference in the world; Marisol, Desiree’s cousin, who hates Rosco and wants to protect her family from his influence; Antoine and Tyrone, teenagers who work for Rosco, tasked with taking down dead dogs from the hellish Losing Tree. Most surprisingly, there’s the ghost of Redrum, a three-legged pit bull Rosco put down, who has reappeared to bind the human characters closer together. As Tyrone explains: “Rum, he come back from the dead. Like a dog world miracle. Three days after he was hangin’ on the tree, he be seen back alive, huntin’ down a white man in Morningside.” This jolt of the supernatural is the catalyst that propels the characters toward their destinies, forcing them to consider what parts of themselves they are willing to sacrifice—and who they might be able to save—along the way. Ambitious and sprawling, this compelling book delivers critiques of American institutions, from family and education to law enforcement and criminal organizations. Romagnoli is adept at dislocating the reader within a real-but-unfamiliar world, as in the tale’s opening scene: a tree full of hanging dogs, some living and some dead. He has an ear for dialogue and a gift for establishing character with a few short clauses (one character, Ivory White, is introduced as a former “member of Rosco’s high school basketball team until he got expelled for pimp-slapping a referee”). While the basic landscapes and conclusions of the story reveal nothing new, Romagnoli achieves them in a way that feels fresh, keeping the reader with him to the final image.

An engaging and memorable social novel that involves dogfighting.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 439

Publisher: Alternative Book Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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