The Mistress's Dog was shortlisted for the 12th Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011 and was included in the Caine Prize for African Writing anthology To See the Mountain and other stories (2011). However, it was first published in The Mistress's Dog and other stories (1996 - 2010).
The dog had outlived its owner, The Mistress, and was now in the care of Nola. In fact, it had outlived the two individuals who made Nola's life silently difficult, Nola's husband included. And even though she preferred cats to dogs she had been left with this canine whose life and, with time, death she must look after. An animal that reminds her that there is really an end to life, that to every beginning there is an end, which makes her also think about her own end.
The Mistress came from a rural, religious, and poor background but had 'worked' hard to make a career for herself. She was single but not entirely, and her career consisted of working as a secretary to a powerful man and also as his mistress.
She remained single, devoted herself to what she called her 'career' (she was a powerful man's secretary), and had an affair that endured for over a decade with a married man (that same powerful man).
And this powerful man is Nola's husband. And Nola knew. She also knew that The Mistress was far from what she made people believe she was. So that even though people thought her to be beautiful, bold, daring, unconventional, libertarian, and happy - laughing excessively even when it was not warranted - Nola knew otherwise; she knew she was weak and fearful and frightened of being alone even though she flagrantly displayed her independence, which was limited to only marriage as the powerful man provided for all her needs even when they were not seeing each other again.
After thirty years of service with the powerful man, fifteen of which there was an intimate relationship, the man retired with Nola and so too was the single The Mistress, who thought it unwise to work for any other person. Unfortunately, the powerful man left with his wife to Cape Town leaving The Mistress in Johannesburg. Lonely she grew decrepit and moved into a home for the aged. It was during this time that the powerful man, now weak and suffering, begged her wife to take The Mistress's dog into her keep.
All through the novel, man's name is not mentioned and so too was the Mistress's name. The story provides a hilarious and at the same time scathing look at some of the choices and decisions that have become fashionable these days.
Brief Bio: David Medalie is a South African writer and an academic. He is a professor in the Department of English. His first collection of short stories, The Shooting of Christmas Cows was published in 1990. Prior to its publication it won the Ernst van Heerden Award. His debut novel, The Shadow Follows, was published in 2006. It was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Literary Award for Best First Book and the M-Net Literary Award. A new collection of short stories The Mistress's Dog was published in 2010. (Read more about him here)