Six Degrees of Freedom, Nicolas Dickner’s story of the mysterious journey of a rogue “phantom container,” follows characters who have a healthy sense of wonder but are determined to make something of that wonder too, impatient as they are with the pedestrian uses humankind makes of its own inventions. The novel, translated into English by Lazer Lederhendler, doesn’t indulge much in romantic reflection; its characters move too quickly for that. They’re dreamers, but they also do.
Dr. Bethune’s Children doesn’t always read like fiction, given the many similarities between the narrator and the author. Like the narrator, Xue grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution, and was shaped by the ideals of the period. In particular, his imagination was captured by the legend of Bethune.
In this deeply layered, poetic, and empathic psychological novel, James Wolfe reappears – in 2017. Traumatized James, or “Jimmy,” wanders the streets of Montreal and Quebec, homeless and haunted by war, his loneliness palpable as he tries to come to grips with the plastic facades of modern life, and continues to grieve his lost eleven days.
Robyn Maynard’s Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present intervenes in the narrative of Canada as the Promised Land, a haven for escaped slaves. Reading it as a Black Canadian woman, the book is a brilliant and powerful validation of our lived experiences.
This is a truly exceptional work, not only for the content – which is rich in both narrative thread and evocative imagery – but also for its visual impact. It is printed in full colour on beautiful paper; materially, it is a quality broadsheet within the pages of a book.
Drakkar Noir, Dodds’s second collection, is quite a return: Dodds re-inhabits his own gory, gothic world with the relish of a contemporary Lord Byron. The title references an arch brand of ’80s cologne, and many poems have a sardonic, sledgehammer musk made up of off-kilter epigrams, heavy rhyming puns, and scenarios that display a fury at the selfishness and idiocy of humans.
There are things I want to show you, like the empty pause that encircles desire. Or how Klimt knew that a woman bends her neck that far for a kiss only if she really wants it. I want to show you how quiet it gets when you’re in the company of someone who no longer loves you.
Jacques Filippi and John McFetridge have assembled an impressive roster of Francophone (most translated by Katie Shireen Assef) and Anglophone writers for Montreal Noir, the second volume in Akashic Books’s long-running Noir series to feature a Canadian city. As per the format of the series, which began with Brooklyn Noir in 2004, each of the fifteen contributors sets their story primarily within a specific Montreal neighbourhood or area.
Trauma Castle is a zine I’ve bought several times as gifts for loved ones. When I brought it home the first time, my partner read the zine over my shoulder one evening and was rendered speechless. She was speechless for two reasons: she was shocked at the violence Billy had experienced as a child, which they were describing in the zine, and she was impressed that the intimacy, terror, and complexity of that violence were being shared.
Inside its surround
folded in, I’m a fold
of it, I’ve never left atmospheric
borders I engorge to the point of
Armand Gamache is now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec. He’s in charge, the boss of the whole Sûreté, but to deal with the great challenges that await him, he surrounded himself with his usual, trusted team. After cleaning out the corruption that had taken over the Sûreté, he now needs to stop, or at least put a serious dent, in the province’s crime levels. That, and solve another murder in Three Pines.
Alfredo Cutipa, the protagonist in Alejandro Saravia’s novel Red, Yellow, Green, is a Bolivian in his thirties residing in Montreal. Burdened by the past, he now haunts the city, its streets, metro, cafés, and bars. His entanglements, including a love affair with a Kurdish freedom-fighter named, of all things, Bolivia, collide with his memories to set off consecutive detonations in a labyrinthine narrative that lodges like shrapnel – bracing and painful.
Another bloody body
another child dying while
doing the unthinkable
eating food, going home,
eyes meeting impatient suspicion.
In Sun of a Distant Land, translator Claire Holden Rothman brings David Bouchet’s heartbreaking and poetic novel, Soleil, to an English audience.
Getting Out of Hope, James Cadelli’s debut graphic novel, opens with a literal cliffhanger: Justin and his two friends, a trio of hippie dudes from “Halifax-ish,” are road-tripping across the country in a creaky RV, having pledged to “do anything and everything that’s fun, funny and dumb.”