Descriptions of scenes of mayhem, of people fleeing violence and political upheaval, of sudden brutality and frenzied fear, were always one of Irène Némirovsky’s great strengths as a writer. She was wonderful at capturing the sense of loss, the knowledge that nothing would or could ever be the same again, and she had a sure eye for the flaws in human nature, the layers of good and evil that lie in all of us. The intricacies of thought were what she loved, the way that ideas, memories and feelings play across the mind.
The Dogs and the Wolves was the last novel Némirovsky published in France before the Germans occupied the country in 1940 and she and her family joined the great exodus towards the south. The meaning of the title becomes clear only in the French – Les Chiens et