from École pour filles by Ariane Lessard
La Mèche, 2020
translated by Frances Pope
It isn’t the first time that Miss Dominique has cautioned me. She saw me push Annette and run to hide behind the shed. This is where Miss Anguish does all the maintenance work on the main yard, repairing the fence, the paving stones that get slippery when it rains. It has rained a lot in the last few weeks. The ground doesn’t look like anything much, without roots to hold it in place. The carpet of moss is soaked through with brown-looking water, here behind…
by Ève Landry
Les éditions de la maison en feu, 2020
translated by Natalia Hero
My night’s in a bad mood. The world resents me. I slow my pace. I watch my bus take off at the green light. I watch it navigate traffic. My eyes are full of knives. Slash its tires with my irises. I can’t help it. It gets dramatic, it makes the lump in my throat rise. I watch the bus get away from me. Another sign. We reap what we sow. And we wait for the bus like we wait for our lives…
by Richard Dallaire, translated by Mary O’Connor
Éditions Alto, 2013
A few nights every month, the authorities carried out horrifying purges. They locked down neighborhoods that were hardest hit by the drying up and erected scaffolding where guillotines dispatched a portion of each superfluous individual.
“That’s a lot of work to ease the burden on social programs.”
“Maybe they like the sound of the blade…”
I wasn’t in a joking mood. Anyone who had heard a blade fall on another’s neck and seen the sand spill out of their body shouldn’t joke about it. I remembered the official line that…
What does it take to be a good translator?
"You need instinct, empathy, sensitivity, passion, and dispassion. You need a thick skin, a good ear, a strong gut, and fingers that can fly like the wind. You need humility and chutzpah. You need to be ready to defend your choices, particularly your punctuation. Because people get incensed about punctuation. One would think they had been beaten about the head with semi-colons or mugged by a roving gang of em dashes. You need to meander, read comic books, read cookbooks, listen to languages you don't understand, and be an avid reader of packaging. You need to find poetry in the banal, you need to defend your punctuation some more, and you need to kill your darlings."
from Rhonda Mullins' funny, entertaining, and on-the-money contribution to "Culture in Transit: Translating the Literature of Quebec" from Véhicule Press
You recently translated The Coral Bride, your second novel by Roxanne Bouchard. What’s it like to return to an author and her characters? Does the translation get any easier?
It’s always a pleasure to dive into a Roxanne Bouchard novel and immerse myself in familiar waters. She writes with such authenticity about the people and places of the Gaspé Peninsula, it’s hard to believe you’re not there, looking out to sea and wondering what’s going to wash in on the next tide as you’re turning the pages. I love seeing Roxanne’s characters evolve from one book to the next as…
by Claudine Dumont
translated by David Scott Hamilton
House of Anansi, 2015
Captive by Claudine Dumont, translated by David Scott Hamilton, comes with a hell of a twist. It’s a twist so big that you might want to consider stapling the last few pages together in case you accidentally read the equivalent of “The butler did it.” It’s a twist so huge that readers would be grateful upon reaching the last page to find a message from House of Anansi’s Arachnide imprint: “To read the end, please email us with ‘Spoiler alert’ in the header.” It’s a twist so game-changing…
by Richard Ste-Marie
There can be so much grit between the detectives’ teeth in the crime fiction coming out of Quebec these days, it’s quite refreshing when an investigator with a touch of class comes along. Enter Detective Sergeant Francis Pagliaro of the Sûreté du Québec, a well-spoken, cultured cop with an eye for fine art. How many detectives’ first thought on laying eyes on a crime scene would be a line from Baudelaire recalling a key work by Matisse? — “There all is order and beauty. Luxury, peace, and pleasure.” …
Translated by Ann Marie Boulanger
It’s a summer of crushing heat and unsolved crimes. From east to west, over a mind-boggling ten million square kilometres of terrain — dotted with countless lakes, a fistful of murderers, and masses of dense, dry scrub — people have shuttered their windows, drawn dusty curtains, locked doors, and installed powerful air conditioners which, somewhat ironically, are cooling down their concerns while ratcheting up the temperature outside.
On the morning of July 26, the mercury in Split Landing already reads 34 degrees Celsius in the shade of the tall conifer trees, and the headline in…
Promised to a lifetime of pain, between the suicide tour and her passing in October 1963, Édith Piaf gave the Paris paparazzi and the tabloid press so much to run with it seemed it would never end. Her glory at the Olympia in early 1961 proved fleeting. She’d undergone another operation or two, but never hinted that she might be stepping out of the limelight. Her haggard face as she left the American Hospital in Paris earned Thiago enough to keep both his car and his family going for a good while.
I didn’t need Yvette Renard to tell me…
by Jean-François Caron
translated by W. Donald Wilson
In The Keeper’s Daughter, like in many works of fiction, names carry weight. They offer insight into characters, hint at the histories of places, and sometimes even reference other literary works. But in Jean-François Caron’s novel, the changing of names is just as significant as the names themselves. Throughout the story, names are invented, substituted, forgotten, and omitted; none can be fully believed or trusted. As the story unfolds, the reader is left to struggle with the uncertainty of identity and the unreliability of memory:
“As soon as she sees…