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April 2011

Writing from Quebec

This month we present writing from Quebec. On the margins of both French and North American literary cultures, Quebec literature goes beyond its national identity to take its place in the world.  Set in city skyscrapers and rustic retreats, featuring characters ranging from adulterous hockey stars to faithful Canadian Heart Association donors, these stories demonstrate the diverse vitality of Quebecois writing. Nicolas Dickner's publishing phenomenon literally takes over the world. Governor General's Award-winner Sylvain Trudel witnesses a shocking adolescent prank.  Dominique Fortier's alienated wife struggles with secrets and sashimi, while Nadine Bismuth's single women pick at choucroute and each other's boyfriends. Pan Bouyoucas's ditherer gives thought to giving blood. Graphic novelist Pascal Girard attends a disastrous high school reunion. Hélène Dorion speaks to dreams, and Christine Germain walks with a ghost. And critic Elsa Pépin provides context for and commentary on this vibrant literary culture. We thank Blue Metropolis Foundation, the Délégation générale du Québec à New York, the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine, the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles, and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for their generous support of this issue.

In work from three Russians, poet Larissa Miller considers coincidence, Natalia Klyuchareva watches a boy discipline his drunken parents, and Dmitry Biriukov eavesdrops on love. In the third installment of "Our Man in Madrid," Chile's Carlos Franz exposes the callous indifference of old emigrants to new. And we bring you the final episode of Eom Jeong-Hui and Ko Im-Hong's graphic novel The Secret of Frequency A.

The Zacharias Ascaris Affair
By Nicolas Dickner
At daybreak on a rainy November 1st humanity sank into a great prehistoric silence
Translated from French by Lazer Lederhendler
Welcome to the Club
By Nadine Bismuth
Clutched to her chest was a huge pot of stewed pig’s feet she’d made the day before.
Translated from French by Alison Strayer
By Dominique Fortier
The circular shape etched by the heat of the lightning was still visible
Translated from French by Paloma Vita
Two Faces
By Sylvain Trudel
An instant later a blaze shot up just above the ground, a live torch–a big cat in flames.
Translated from French by Sheila Fischman
The middle of winter In the cold light Icy waltz on the sidewalks of Montreal.   Dolorès is in pain. Wearing her cheap, musty-smelling fur.   Motionless. Her large white cigarette in…
Translated from French by Samuel Archibald & Donald Winkler
from “The Window of Time”
IV. You dream of cities not eroded by time, of forests that form immense paths, you dream, and on the sea the masts of ships gnaw away at white stones, the swell chafes the shore, you dream, but dawn…
Translated from French
A Region of the Spirit: An Interview with Carlos Franz
By Toni Sala
Jonathan Blitzer: The stories that appear in La Prisionera, which you have recently presented here in Madrid, take place in the imaginary city of Pampa Hundida, which also exists in your novels. What…
Translated from Spanish
Gandhi’s Admirer
By Pan Bouyoucas
And I'm supposed to become an accomplice to these Frankensteins!
Translated from French by Paul Curtis Daw
None of Your Business
By Natalia Klyuchareva
His mother smiled stupidly, flapped her heavily mascaraed eyelashes, and missed the plate with her fork.
Translated from Russian by Marian Schwartz
Spaniards Lost in America
By Carlos Franz
He kept the body under the counter, right where he stored his medicinal herbs.
Translated from Spanish by Jonathan Blitzer
An Uncoincidence, a Noncoincidence
By Larissa Miller
Someone rushes to a house that's been moved away.
Translated from Russian by Richard McKane
By Dmitry Biriukov
Admit it, pal, you’re Hoovering up every word.
Translated from Russian by Arch Tait
In Praise of the Margins
By Pierre Joris
It’s not easy to paint a faithful picture of a literature in only a few words. And so, rather than presenting a broad overview of the current Quebec literary scene, I propose to bring to your attention…
Translated from French by Soukaina Habiballah