In his wildly ambitious and darkly funny debut novel, Jonathan Garfinkel probes the fractured nature of identity, the necessity of lies, and the bloody legacy of the Soviet Empire.  

Spanning generations, continents, and cultures, In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is an electric tale about a nation trying to emerge from the shadow of the Soviet Union to embrace Western democracy. Driven by a complexly plotted mystery that leads from Moscow to Toronto to Tbilisi, punctuated by wild car chases and drunken jazz reveries, and featuring an eccentric cast of characters including Georgian performance artists, Chechen warlords, and KGB spies, Garfinkel delivers a story that questions the price of freedom and laughs at the answer.  

With exhilarating prose reminiscent of Rachel Kushner and more twists than a John le Carré thriller, In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is a daring, nuanced, and spectacularly entertaining novel by an exceptional talent.

About the author(s)

JONATHAN GARFINKEL is an award-winning playwright and author. His play House of Many Tongues was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, and The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret has been performed across Canada, Russia, Ukraine, and Germany. His memoir, Ambivalence: Crossing the Israel/Palestine Divide, has been published in numerous countries to wide critical acclaim, and his long-form nonfiction has appeared in The Walrus, Tablet, the Globe and Mail, and PEN International, as well as Cabin Fever: An Anthology of the Best New Canadian Non-Fiction. Named by the Toronto Star as “one to watch,” Garfinkel is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of Medical and Health Humanities at the University of Alberta, where he is writing a memoir about life with type 1 diabetes and the revolutionary open-source Loop artificial pancreas system. He lives in Berlin.


Suspense-driven prose that jumps through time and milks the temporal gap for dramatic tension. … Garfinkel navigates the complex environment of post-Soviet Georgia with confidence, drawing persuasively from the country’s political history to contextualize his characters’ personal narratives.

This is a complex story with a theme of lies and deception in the Soviet Union, a land with a history of terror used to control the public. Garfinkel shows the chaos that ensues when a corrupt system falls apart, only to be replaced by one not fully realized.

Cinematic … In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark is an entertaining, sometimes funny book, perhaps more Graham Greene than John le Carré … Garfinkel’s novel is at its best at high speeds, twisting through city streets and dirt tracks.