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Buster: A Dog


Pelecanos breaks new literary ground with the story of a dog’s life—from the dog’s perspective—on the streets of Washington, DC

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$19.95 $14.96

What people are saying…

“Pelecanos veers from crime fiction with a tender … story of a dog who shuffles from owner to owner in Washington, D.C. Buster, who narrates, fondly remembers his first home in the apartment of a single mother named Darcia, where he lived with his siblings and mom and befriended Darcia’s son. When pest exterminator Ed Grange visits the apartment, he convinces Darcia to let him take Buster off her hands. At home, Ed verbally abuses his wife and son and beats Buster with a broom handle. When animal control comes to take Buster, he makes a break for it and winds up living with an older man named Joe and his dog Lucy. Then Lucy dies, and Joe passes Buster on to his nephew Top, a weed dealer who dotes on Buster. The story builds to a heart-rending crisis point after Top lands in hot water with his criminal associates.”
Publishers Weekly

“The novella is a quirky genre, and Mr. Pelecanos’s Buster stands out even within its peculiar ranks. There’s no slobbering desire to please from this dignified narrator, who proves a sleek contrast with the insipid froth of Lassie.”
—Wall Street Journal

“Pelecanos’s novella conveys the powerful bond between animals and humans. We cannot help falling in love with Buster and root for him to find a stable, loving home, making Pelecanos’s pooch a welcome addition to his impressive oeuvre.”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Buster: A Dog encapsulates Pelecanos themes regarding bad behavior and redemption, and references to DC streets like Georgia Avenue, but it is told—literally—by a dog who grew up in a public housing complex, and later is owned by both an abusive drunk and a drug dealer.”
—Washington City Paper

Buster is not a private eye story; it’s not even a crime novel. But D.C.’s mean streets are somehow never far away, as we follow the life and times of a feisty but proud boxer named Buster who narrates his own story . . . The novella follows Buster as he’s bounced from home to home . . . always with a sharp-edged matter of factness that recalls such other classics of doggie lit as Albert Terhune’s Lad: A Dog, and Jack London’s The Call of the Wild . . . Pelecanos offers a clear-eyed, surprisingly moving (and even occasionally funny) view of not just a dog’s life but of America itself, for better or worse, and as the novel draws to its inevitable conclusion, even the hardest of the hard may feel a little something.”
Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

“Everything George Pelecanos writes is an occasion. You can’t wait to dive back into his world of hard truths, flashes of beauty, the crushing weight of sudden loss. With his latest, a deceptively simple story of a dog navigating his way through various homes and owners in DC becomes a much larger parable of urban survival (and occasional, fleeting triumph) among the disenfranchised, the forgotten.”
—Megan Abbott, author of Beware the Woman

“A tour de force, an epic novel . . . in dog years! George Pelecanos takes us inside a boxer’s point of view to further explore the streets, houses, and alleys of his beloved Washington, DC. You’ve not read a book like this or met a character like Buster, but he’ll soon be your new best friend.”
—Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

“An astonishing and imaginative odyssey from master storyteller George Pelecanos, Buster is more than the tale of a dog’s life. With its poignant twists and turns, joys and heartbreak, this dog’s journey mirrors much of what we all face in navigating the beauty and wickedness of our world. This novella is told with unforgettable wit and universal truths through the eyes of our fine boxer, and sparkles with DC’s magic.”
—Morowa Yejidé, author of Creatures of Passage

“This is great writing in every sentence. Yes, it’s from a dog’s point of view, and yes, we get the primary occurrences in any male dog’s life. But this book is about America. You will read it straight through, then want to read it again. Buster is the dog we all want. Pelecanos is the writer we all wish we were.”
—Chris Offutt, author of Code of the Hills


Ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a dog? Buster is the story of one dog’s lifelong journey, as told by the animal himself.

A strong and proud boxer, he spends his early days with a loving family in a public housing complex in Washington, DC. Abruptly, he is taken away by an abusive, alcoholic man, plunging Buster into a challenging, nightmarish existence. Over the course of his life, he will experience homelessness, tragedy, a harrowing stay in a shelter, and acts of kindness, including his adoption by an older gentleman grieving the death of his wife.

At his peak, Buster lives with a young marijuana dealer who runs a profitable but dangerous business in the city. Along the way, Buster befriends other dogs and witnesses the best and worst aspects of humanity. As the seasons change, and change again, he begins to understand the finality of existence and in turn learns to appreciate the gift of life.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 88 pages
  • Published: 5/7/24
  • IBSN: 9781636141701
  • e-IBSN: 9781636141718


GEORGE PELECANOS is the author of twenty-two novels and story collections set in and around Washington, DC, and has been the recipient of numerous international writing awards. He is a screenwriter, essayist, and television writer/producer whose credits include The Wire, Treme, The Deuce, and We Own This City. He is the editor of the best-selling volumes DC Noir and DC Noir 2: The Classics. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Buster: A Dog is his latest novel.

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