cover of book
by Romain Gary
University of Chicago Press, 2004
Paper: 978-0-226-28430-9
Library of Congress Classification PQ2613.A58C5313 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 843.912

Both a personal memoir and a French novelist's encounter with American reality, White Dog is an unforgettable portrait of racism and hypocrisy. Set in the tumultuous Los Angeles of 1968, Romain Gary's story begins when a German shepherd strays into his life: "He was watching me, his head cocked to one side, with that unbearable intensity of dogs in the pound waiting for a rescuer." A lost police canine, this "white dog" is programmed to respond violently to the sight of a black man and Gary's attempts to deprogram it—like his attempts to protect his wife, the actress Jean Seberg; like her endeavors to help black activists; like his need to rescue himself from the "predicament of being trapped, lock, stock and barrel within a human skin"—lead from crisis to grief.

Using the re-education of this adopted pet as a metaphor for the need to quash American racism, Gary develops a domestic crisis into a full-scale social allegory.