The Postman’s Round
At the beginning Bilodo is unfamiliar with even the most popular of Japanese poetry forms: the haiku. Out of a growing love for the mysterious Ségolène, he learns enough about the form to begin experimenting with it himself, so that he can send her his poems in the place of Grandpré’s. His newfound knowledge is shared with us in elegant, easy-to-digest doses, giving us the information we need to appreciate the book’s trick ending, which plays on one aspect in particular of the Japanese tradition. Our own learning process here makes Bilodo’s transformation from a total poetry naïf to a near expert seem that much more credible. If we can do it, so can he.
In 2006, the French-language original of this smart and funny novella won Montreal screenwriter Denis Thériault the Japan-Canada Literary Award, a lucrative but little-known prize. Hopefully, Liedewy Hawke’s thoughtful translation into English will bring this perfect little story to greater acclaim. mRb