French-Canadian Authors for the 12th Canadian Book Challenge

There are about 800 discussions of books by Canadian writers on BIP, about half the books discussed here, but far more by English-Canadian than French-Canadian writers.

For the 12th Canadian Book Challenge, I will be reading in translation.

But which books? Which French-Canadian writers?

In a previous year (the challenge was previously hosted at The Book Mine Set and is now hosted at The Indextrious Reader), I read through the works of Gabrielle Roy, particularly enjoying The Cashier (1954)The Tin Flute (1945), and The Road Past Altamont (1966), but there are still some essays and her autobiography.

That feels a little like homework, however.

Meanwhile, some contemporary authors have caught my eye:

Dominique Fortier’s Wonder (2010; Trans. Sheila Fischman, 2014)
Claudine Dumont’s Captive (2013; Trans. David Scott Hamilton, 2015)
Nicolas Dickner’s Nikolski (2001; Trans. Lazer Lederhendler, 2010)
Catherine LeRoux’s The Party Wall (2013; Trans. Lazer Lederhendler, 2016), and
Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau’s Winter Child (2014; Trans. Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli, 2017).

Not homework, simply fine writing.

I also loved Jocelyne Saucier’s And the Birds Rained Down (2011; Trans. Rhonda Mullins, 2012), which I read twice but too quickly to make notes. (I found Twenty-One Cardinals tremendously engaging too, but in a different way.)

All of these writers have other works in print (although I have yet to see which are also available in translation).

More challenging, but still of interest, I’d like to read more of Nicole Brossard (I loved Mauve Desert), France Daigle (beginning with 1953), and Elizabeth Vonarburg.

And although I don’t have specific titles in mind, I enjoyed Monique Proulx’s Le Coeur est un muscle involuntaire (2002) and Jacques Poulin’s Volkswagen Blues (1984), the first for its writer-ish bits and the second for its wit.

Some of the classics I’ve read, like Hubert Aquin’s Next Episode (1965; Trans. Sheila Fischman, 2001), Marie-Claire Blais A Season in the Life of Emmanuel (1965) and Anne Hébert’s In the Shadow of the Wind (1982) but there are gaps here too (like all of Blais’ Soifs series, but that would be a project all on its own).

And somehow I made it out of high school French, without reading either Ringet’s Thirty Acres (1938) or Louis Hémon’s Maria Chapdelaine (1915). (Although I was envied for having missed the latter.)

And, even though I read the beginning of Michel Tremblay’s The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant and absolutely loved it (1978; Trans. Sheila Fischman, 1981), somehow it got set aside before I finished, with the other volumes in the Chroniques du Plateau Mont-Royal. Ditto for the collection Montreal Noir (edited by Facques Filippi, 2017), which I only dabbled in before returning it to the library unfinished.

Also on my list? When I was a girl, I saw a dramatization of Roger Lemelin’s Les Plouffe (1948), which I loved, and I’ve heard so many good things about Fanny Britt’s Hunting Houses (2015; Trans. Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli, 2017) and Gaétan Soucy (in general).

But this isn’t a reading list, only a beginning.

I don’t want to choose titles because I want this reading project to feel like exploring.

I want to set off with a bagged lunch and optimism rather than a road-map with directions.

Having said that, if you have any recommendations, please share.

And, if you want to sign up for the challenge yourself? (No need to read-on-a-theme or plan ahead, unless you want to.)

Have you recently finished reading a Canadian author?



  1. Laila@BigReadingLife July 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    I love the phrase “bagged lunch and optimism!” That’s a lovely way to imagine your challenge explorations!

    • Buried In Print July 25, 2018 at 10:16 am - Reply

      I’m glad you like it: I’ll pack extra snacks if you would like to share!

  2. Naomi July 19, 2018 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    I already feel like I want to add all these books and authors to my list!
    I’ve had Nikolski forever, so if you end up reading that one, I’d love to join you. Same goes for The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant – I know right where it is at the library, and no one ever takes it out.

    • Buried In Print July 20, 2018 at 7:20 am - Reply

      Nikolski is great…and there’s a road trip! (In just one section, IIRC.) I haven’t read any of his others though, which is what I’ll aim for, though I think I’m going to read for Women in Translation month first (which I’ve never managed to participate in before). I will let you know when I’m going to read the Tremblay. It might turn out to be a January thing as I would like to read on in the series too (and will be finished with Jalna and Erdrich then). I feel badly for branch library books that don’t get borrowed too (and I”m sure I don’t observe half as many as you do).

  3. A Life in Books July 19, 2018 at 2:22 am - Reply

    This post hammers home, once again, the lamentable representation of Canadian writers’ work here in the UK, although it may be getting better. I was sent a copy of Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square by a publisher only yesterday. You’ve also reminded me about Party Wall which I first came across on Naomi’s Consumed by Ink bog. Thanks for that, and enjoy your explorations!.

    • Buried In Print July 20, 2018 at 7:17 am - Reply

      Francophone writers have lamentable representation in most Canadian bookstores too, so that’s just unfair from the borders of Quebec onwards. Maybe Kim Thuy reaches you? (Ru, Man, Vi). I have a European friend who seems to get her stuff before I do. I’m so excited you’re going to read Redhill’s novel; my thoughts are here and include some regional details that I think add a delicious layer of complexity to the story, without spoilers (other than the “unreliable narrator” bit which you already know about from the comments on your post).

  4. Melwyk July 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Oh, I have SO MANY suggestions – I love Quebecois lit. I’ll be reviewing quite a few of them in August as part of Women in Translation Month so you can check them out then. Lots of my favourites are the same ones you mentioned in your post, but you’ve also really got to search out any of Martine Desjardins’ work, and you might also like Louise Dupré’s Memoria. A few for now… 🙂

    • Buried In Print July 18, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      I can’t say why I haven’t made more of a point of it; I guess that’s exactly it, one must make a point of it, because there is so much anglo-lit drowning it out. I have three of Desjardins on my GR TBR, but I didn’t have her in mind lately, so that’s very helpful, thank you. Memoriais reference-only for me, but I can see another work (Rooms) in translation (and some others in French, but not Memoria). Thanks for the encouragement and I will watch closely in August!

  5. kaggsysbookishramblings July 18, 2018 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Ermmm – I have two Robertson Davies trilogies lurking… Maybe I should read one this summer????

    • Buried In Print July 18, 2018 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Davies just doesn’t seem like a lurker. He might be seated at the margins, but super respectably. Beard freshly combed, etc.

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