New Quebec Fiction

There’s not a lot of detail in the post, but at the Globe and Mail book blog, Linda Leith has an overview of new books from Quebec.

Her main point is to emphasize the differences between the Quebec literary scene and that found in “English Canada,” differences both in terms of literary style and personality:

The great Jacques Poulin’s new novel is L’anglais n’est pas une langue magique (Leméac). Poulin is loved and admired in spite of — or is it in part because of? — his refusal to take the public stage to promote his work. Nor is he the only major Quebec writer of whom this is true, for Réjean Ducharme (author, most famously, of L’avalée des avalés in 1966, remarkable winner of the Prix Goncourt) is a legendary recluse. Is there a major Canadian writer alive from outside Quebec who never speaks into a microphone? I can’t think of one. Can you?

(Ironically, in a story about how bad Canadian publishers are at promoting books there’s a quote from Margaret Atwood: “The term ‘relentless self-promoter’ used to be an insult in publishing circles. Now it will be a necessity.”)

Getting back to the literary, this book is at least compared to a lot of the right names:

Patrice Martin is a hopeful newcomer with a first novel entitled Le Chapeau de Kafka (XYZ), which includes nods not only to Kafka but also to Paul Auster, Calvino, and Borges — a combination that intrigues Le Devoir‘s dependably literary columnist Danielle Laurin in her recent round-up of the season’s highlights.

Kafka, Calvino, and Borges all have their English-Canadian admirers, as indeed does Paul Auster. The adulation for Auster in French Quebec, though, where he walks on water — as indeed he does in France and elsewhere in Europe — is another measure of the distance between Quebec’s literary milieu and that of English Canada.

I really need to look into some of these authors to find out what they’re really like, but at least the Quebec literary scene sounds promising . . .

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