Despite what the title may have you believe, Serafim and Claire is no love story. It is a novel about rash decisions, about the interconnectedness of our lives, and about chasing dreams. But there is a sweetness to the story, a redemptive quality to its end. It is the kind of novel that keeps you up with the bedside lamp on until the last page is turned.
Frères is a reflection of our own familiar world in a distorting mirror, a world of “monstrous creatures, bigger than anything they could imagine, two-headed fish, turtles with shells as huge as islands, whales with mouths big enough to swallow whole cities,” all seen through the eyes of two brothers, the elder missing an arm, the younger fashioned by his mother from that arm so that his sibling would not have to face the cruel world alone.
This week Québec Reads spoke with the author of A Second Chance, Felicia Mihali.
“This book would have been something completely different in French. It would have been a tragic, Shakespearean novel about faith, misfortune, hardship. When you know a language too well you cannot avoid the pitfall of giving too many details. My first experience with writing in English was the chance to be simple, colloquial, and funny. My previous books written in Romanian or French are really missing mockery which, as a reader, I appreciate a lot in a book.”
A Second Chance by Felicia Mihali tells the story of a Romanian couple in the impressively multicultural city of Laval. It’s spring 2012 and Adam is recovering from a stroke. His right arm has been left paralyzed and his memories are almost completely gone. Daily life with his wife is both deathly dull (trips to Costco and the mall) and full of fear (he’s too afraid to answer the phone, scared that people will speak to him in the language he has now forgotten).
This is the sixth in a series of interviews with people who are closely involved with Quebec literature on a daily basis. In the future, we’ll talk to publishers, readers, bookstore owners, and translators to get a feel for today’s publishing scene in Quebec.
Billy Robinson is a bookseller at Coop ÉTS in Montreal. Originally from the Gaspé Peninsula, he is a keen reader of Quebec fiction and an active blogger. His recommendations on Goodreads (and elsewhere) are always worth following.