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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
It all began five years ago, going on six. Ballast Publishing, a fledgling British publishing house, had just launched the first (and last) novel of its catalog, The Zacharias Ascaris Affair. No one,…
Translated from French by Lazer Lederhendler
Welcome to the Club
It was a spring evening and Dylane had invited us to her apartment in Rosemont, which she’d bought a few months earlier. It was the first time we were going to see it, so Hélène suggested…
Translated from French
On July 16, 2009, a young woman who was dining out with her husband in a Japanese restaurant in downtown Montreal died instantly when a concrete block fell from the front of the building and landed exactly…
Translated from French
Two Faces
By Adrian Nathan West
Eyes closed, I see again the delicate edens growing in the frost on the windowpanes. Luminous garlands woven into the snow-covered railings during the festive season to celebrate the birth of a child-god.…
Translated from French by Marina Araújo
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
Twelve till midnight. On this Saturday, March 8, he was listening to a recap of the day’s hockey games on the kitchen radio, making a cup of hot chocolate to drink while he watched the film Gandhi,…
Translated from French by Paul Curtis Daw
None of Your Business
By Natalia Klyuchareva
For a long time the fact that the Krivovs drank was something only their son knew. When it began, Yurka had just started first grade. In the beginning, the Krivovs were embarrassed by their disease and…
Translated from Russian by Marian Schwartz
Spaniards Lost in America
Imagine that bus, a coffin on its roof. Its long shadow crossing the desert without witnesses, Pan-American Highway due south, coming from the Peruvian border. And here, in Pampa Hundida, we were waiting…
Translated from Spanish
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
Have you ever traveled in an overcrowded bus? Rammed up against the window with your cheek squashed against the glass and the handrail bruising your ribs? No need to answer. Of course you have. No, really,…
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