Chercher Sam

Chercher Sam

Chercher Sam is a simple novel, a novel of the street, written in the language of the street. It is simple, but not simplistic, instead adding depth and interest to the character we most often ignore, the one we try not to talk to, the one we walk by, the one we don’t want to touch: the homeless guy in the street with his dog.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Serafim and Claire

Serafim and Claire

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.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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Frères

Frères

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.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Interview with Felicia Mihali

Interview with Felicia Mihali

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.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review and interview with Felicia Mihali
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A Second Chance

A Second Chance

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).

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Read the excerpt
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Interview with Billy Robinson

Interview with Billy Robinson

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.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Interview with Billy Robinson
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Peut-être jamais

Peut-être jamais

“The first night happened at Sébastien’s place. Christophe was away, staying with friends in northern France. The bottles of wine had racked up fast, as had the cigarettes. We were like three shipwrecks on the couch, but our hands were already wandering like earthworms searching for a crack in the ground after the rain.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by David Warriner
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Peut-être jamais

Peut-être jamais

Peut-être jamais is a novel that might well pull you out of your comfort zone. Maxime Collins clearly has talent and conjures up some inspiring words that spur the reader to reflect on the challenges of growing up, the fleeting nature of youth, and how our lives can change in a split-second.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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My October

My October

My October has impressive depth, building layer upon layer of personal, family tension. Can all this tension be boiled down to politics? Perhaps. But what comes first is family drama and lots of it in a very readable, cinematic page-turner.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Le vertige des insectes

Le vertige des insectes

“Mathilde felt her chest tighten. Maybe her heart was breaking. The days passed by unnoticed. A gloom woke her in the morning and enveloped her at night. Sadness caught up with her in each corner of the apartment.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Arielle Aaronson
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Le vertige des insectes

Le vertige des insectes

Le vertige des insectes is a subtle, unspectacular novel of checked smiles and repressed emotions. But still waters run deep.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Translation Interview with Arielle Aaronson

Translation Interview with Arielle Aaronson

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with people who are closely involved with Quebec literature on a daily basis, and the first to focus on the translation process. In the future, we’ll talk to publishers, readers, bookstore owners, and translators to get a feel for today’s publishing scene in Quebec.

Arielle Aaronson is a teacher and translator and recently published 21 Days in October with Baraka Books.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Interview with Arielle Aaronson
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Cycling to Asylum

Cycling to Asylum

Cycling to Asylum is a mostly successful blend of various genres, set in future versions of New York City and Montreal.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Hollywood

Hollywood

“I told her again that there is only one tragic drama in America: our emotions. The true victims of a great calamity are our feelings and perhaps those of the people closest to us. Nothing more.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo
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Hollywood

Hollywood

Is Hollywood a tragic love story, a parable of strength in the face of adversity, or a seething social commentary? No matter how you see it, Marc Séguin keeps us guessing until the final twist.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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Je suis là

Je suis là

Christine Eddie’s third novel is “a true story, but not quite the truth.” Eddie has romanticized the story of a family friend, a real-life Angèle struck down by real-life tragedy. She is there to tell us her story. Because Angèle cannot.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation and review by Peter McCambridge
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La Première minute de Mathieu

La Première minute de Mathieu

This short little book for younger readers is simple and touching throughout. It gives a voice to the Mathieus of this world. The little boys we pass in the street, the ones playing alone in the park. Tibo’s writing lets us hear their suffering, their cries for help.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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La Première minute de Mathieu

La Première minute de Mathieu

“Some sunny mornings, I open my bedroom curtains and it feels like the sky is black, the sun is black. Everything alive is the colour of coal, weighing down on my shoulders. In this dark world, only the water in the river throws up bright rays of light.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Peter McCambridge
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Interview with Andrew Greenfield

Interview with Andrew Greenfield

This is the fourth 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.

Andrew Greenfield is an avid reader, and is passionate about books. He moved to Quebec City in early 2009, and lives there with his wife and children. He runs La Bouquinerie Anglaise, an English bookstore, and publishes Life in Québec Magazine, and LifeinQuebec.com, both of which provide news and information in English about the region.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Interview with Andrew Greenfield
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On the Crow

On the Crow

As a writer, Robert A. Poirier is in no hurry. Details and descriptions build like moss on a rock. At times, the writing is as crystal clear as river water. At others, it’s as tangled and sprawling as a busy forest floor. Gruff conversation gives way to dry dates softened in warm tea. Even in the few stories not directly set in the great outdoors, nature usually gets a say (in a Christmas Eve snowstorm, for example). Characters whisper softly “like an eddy as it swirls, flowing downstream with the current” as Poirier brings nature to life, with its sights and sounds and smells. All in all, it’s a pleasant stroll through this collection of short stories in an outdoor world of spring and thaw and Malamutes.

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Interview with Marie-Hélène Vaugeois

Interview with Marie-Hélène Vaugeois

This is the third 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.

Born in 1968, Marie-Hélène Vaugeois has been closely involved with the world of books from an early age: her father is historian and publisher Denis Vaugeois, and her mother opened Librairie Vaugeois on Avenue Maguire in Quebec City in 1974. In other words, the bookstore was Marie-Hélène’s playground before becoming her workplace.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Interview with Marie-Hélène Vaugeois
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Un vélo dans la tête

Un vélo dans la tête

“We leave Loreto in a cumulus of dust. Me up front. I pedal and turn around sometimes, out of habit. Usually I like looking at the invisible trail I leave behind on the roads. But this time I turn around. And I see Sam.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Peter McCambridge
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Un vélo dans la tête

Un vélo dans la tête

More than a straightforward travelogue, Un vélo dans la tête is exquisite, so good you could stick a pin in it and come up with a paragraph to remember, a turn of phrase that rolls around memorably in the mouth before bringing a smile to your lips.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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An essay on Hubert Aquin

An essay on Hubert Aquin

The violent power of language and the way Aquin uses that to create his prose style is what most directly unites Next Episode and The Invention of Death. Unique may be an overused word, one which often comes with an unnecessary modifier, but Aquin is just that: unique, utterly mad, yet coherent. Aquin’s prose is a form of logorrhea that finds sense and beauty again and again.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Essay by P.T. Smith
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Interview with Robin Philpot

Interview with Robin Philpot

This is the second 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.

Robin Philpot founded publishing company Baraka Books in 2009 and is also an author. Baraka Books has published more than 30 books from Quebec, many of them translated from the French.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Interview with Robin Philpot
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Interview with Dimitri Nasrallah

Interview with Dimitri Nasrallah

This is the first 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.

Dimitri Nasrallah is the fiction editor for Esplanade Books imprint, published by Véhicule Press, and the author of two award-winning novels.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Interview with Dimitri Nasrallah
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Le chant de la terre innue

Le chant de la terre innue

To the north, shoulders leaning over the rim of the horizon, mountains crane their broad necks to peer into the depths. Slowly, wind and time relieve them of their own weight: they fill out like geese, then lift their necks and take off into a sea of stars. Other mountains, closer to me, come brand new out of the ground, take the same path, and prepare for their mass migration through the black waters of the night.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Peter McCambridge
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Le chant de la terre innue

Le chant de la terre innue

A mother bear has her life spared by a hunter and celebrates by flinging salmon at her young. Far-off storms rumble in the distance. Clouds become heavy as mountains. It rains for days and nights at a time. An igloo is a “den of ivory where time has fallen asleep,” time itself “nothing more than a glacial night, death as far as the eye can see.”

Le chant de la terre innue is a book of images. A novel on time and space and nature. A novel of time and space and nature. Beautiful descriptions follow each other seamlessly, never feeling gaudy or overdone.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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Mister Roger and Me

Mister Roger and Me

La petite et le vieux reminded me of home. True, I didn’t grow up in working-class Québec in the 1980s or fancy converting to the opposite sex. I didn’t even have a paper route when I was young. And sure, Hélène, alias “Joe,” had an alcoholic father and a potty mouth, made friends with the local drunk, and was working for pocket change in a bingo hall by the time she was eleven years old. But she was also scared of the dark. And scared of her big sister. And scared of disappointing her father. She could have been any of us at eleven.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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Metamorphosis Interrupted

Metamorphosis Interrupted

Michèle Thibeau is, among other things, a curious being, a creative writer, and a lifelong learner. She loves experimenting with the magic and mystery of short story and poetry. Metamorphosis Interrupted explores vulnerability and trust.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32A short story by Michèle Thibeau
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Heart Songs in Flight

Heart Songs in Flight

In Heart Songs in Flight the reader is a passenger. It is a reflection, a celebration, on peace, choice, and survival.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32A short story by Michèle Thibeau
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J’haïs les Anglais

J’haïs les Anglais

The Plains of Abraham. The Durham Report. The War Measures Act. Conscription. Stephen Harper. The Orangemen. Rob Ford… The narrator of J’haïs les Anglais has plenty of reasons to hate “the English,” his catch-all term for anyone who speaks the language of Yes, No, Toaster that he can’t understand.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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La Fiancée américaine

La Fiancée américaine

On September 1, 1939, a huge ass rose on the German horizon. Like a star, it climbed high into a sky normally filled with pale moons, patches of fog, and the occasional harmless witch. Once it was nice and high in the sky, it began to shit, Kapriel. In your country, it snows. Well here, it shits. Brown sticky, stinking flakes of it began to fall lazily to the ground. They fell on people, on cars, on the Olympic Stadium… First across Germany, then across the rest of Europe. At the start, we managed to shovel away the shit that was falling, but soon it was up to our knees, then our waists. It shat for six years. Even today, we’re still shoveling away the shit that began to fall that day. What? You thought it had been shitting for a long time before that in Germany? Yes, but it only began to stink on September 1, 1939. You know the rest.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Peter McCambridge
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On the Proper Use of Stars

On the Proper Use of Stars

Thousands of people came to witness the departure of the Erebus and the Terror from British soil in 1845; Sir John Franklin was hailed as a hero setting off to conquer the Northwest Passage. But what began as a tremendous expedition set against a sea of cheering voices ended as a lone figure struggling in a vacuum of nothingness, hundreds of miles from anything but ice.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Arielle Aaronson
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Against God

Against God

and it all starts when you go to the front door only to be confronted with two cops who look at you as though they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, they ask you your name and your answer doesn’t make them feel any better, their faces just get even longer, so you wait […] and finally you ask what’s going on…

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli
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Against God

Against God

Patrick Senécal offers the reader a unique perspective on what it must feel like to lose those who are closest to you, and how rapidly a respectable citizen can lose his grasp on reality and descend into chaos.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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8:17 PM, Rue Darling

8:17 PM, Rue Darling

“Stories are sacred. I’m unsure about a lot of things in life, but I know stories are sacred. Stories are the only eternity an agnostic like me can believe in…”

8:17 PM, Rue Darling is Montréal noir with an unmistakable French accent. Gérard is an alcoholic and former crime reporter, gone back to live in the disaster of a Montreal neighbourhood where he grew up. We follow him as he looks for answers in this flawed world.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by John Gilmore
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New Tab

New Tab

“Best way to describe my relationship with my hair would be ‘Hostage situation.’”

New Tab is a touching portrait of life in Montreal as so many of us know it today. Morissette’s is a unique voice, but at the same time it’s the voice of a generation, the voice of our generation.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Read the excerpt
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New Tab

New Tab

New Tab is a touching portrait of life in Montreal as so many of us know it today. Morissette’s is a unique voice, but at the same time it’s the voice of a generation, the voice of our generation.

“I thought about things like self-esteem, success, relationships and self-improvement all being for other people. I thought about self-sabotage being for me.
Later, I stared at what looked like the beginning of a sunrise.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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La Saison des pluies

La Saison des pluies

La Saison des pluies (The rainy season) tells the story of a seven-year-old boy dealing with his father’s death. This children’s book is very short (around 4,000 words), but it is telling that it was written by a poet: every word packs a punch. The overall effect is simple, beautiful, and very sad. It has won all kinds of awards since it was published.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Peter McCambridge
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Terre à bois

Terre à bois

“The mayor was by far the biggest fish in this pond. He commanded respect but also scared the hell out of people. While nobody seemed to show any particular aversion to the mayor, Alain could sense there was some kind of omerta at play here, a code of silence that surely had more to do with fear than esteem for the man. Everybody owed Réal Fortier something, one way or another.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by David Warriner
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Terre à bois

Terre à bois

Ever wondered what it would be like to say goodbye to the daily grind in the city and move to the country for a simpler life? In Sylvain Hotte’s Terre à bois (Wood lot) that’s exactly what Alain Demers decides to do when life hands him an opportunity to buy a cheap plot of land that seems too good to be true.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by David Warriner
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J’écris parce que je chante mal

J’écris parce que je chante mal

“You’ll lock your bedroom door, putting up a ‘No Adults’ poster. I’ll swear I find the whole thing idiotic, even though I’ll envy your own little kingdom where your worries seem very small indeed to me from the outside. Your arms, your nose, your ears will grow too quickly and you’ll look like a monkey for a while. Your mother will still think you’re gorgeous. I won’t be so sure.”

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Peter McCambridge
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J’écris parce que je chante mal

J’écris parce que je chante mal

J’écris parce que je chante mal is a thoroughly charming collection of very short fiction, each short story lasting no more than a paragraph or a page or three. In all, around 100 stories make up the 200 pages.

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Review by Peter McCambridge
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