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A Matter of Gravity
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Tuesday January 21, 2014 in Books

A Matter of Gravity

By Hélène Vachon
Translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott

A Matter of Gravity is about the forces that draw people together and give life meaning. Hermann, an embalmer and a doctor’s son, devotes himself to the dead because, unlike his father, he cannot cure the living. Hu, an ailing concert pianist, dwells in memories of past glory. Hermann is a devoted neighbour to the residents of his apartment building, a population of “quiet old things,” elderly ladies who have seen better days. Hu is facing an uncertain future and must make his peace with the past.

Hermann feels he is eternally separated from the world by a “permanent cushion of air” that keeps him hovering above humanity. Hu is bound to a nightmarish reality, contending with emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.

A mysterious manuscript, possibly written by one of Hermann’s centenarian neighbours, connects one man with the other, and an afternoon at the park eventually leads the two of them back to Hu’s piano. This marks the beginning of an extraordinary relationship that will change both men’s lives.

A Matter of Gravity is a sensitive, delicate, and humorous novel that unfolds in liminal spaces: between life and death, youth and age, earth and sky. The transformative meeting between Hermann and Hu brings out the question that paralyzes each man, the question all of us must answer for ourselves: Faced with death, how do we embrace life in all its contradictions, its dissatisfactions, its messiness? In the encounter of two engaging individuals, Hélène Vachon provides a possible answer, one that will leave readers smiling and perhaps change their lives as well.

ISBN 13: 9780889228405 | ISBN 10: 088922840X
5 W x 8.5 H inches | 256 pp pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
Paperback Edition

QUOTES OF NOTE

“full of insightful comments about existence and life and death and purpose and disappointment. … it’s almost like magic realism, but there’s nothing magic about it. Everything that happens could be real and true … And yet, there is a magicality in the story, a roughness around the edges of every new scene”
Words on Pages

“You take leave of this book with renewed joy in your heart.”
– Jean Fugère

“A beautiful, surprising novel that speaks with tenderness and dark humour.”
La Semaine

“A gem of a novel that is both grave and cheerful. We sense Boris Vian’s influence in the rollicking way the author deals with disease and tragedy, but the text carves its own path through constant innovation. [A Matter of Gravity] may well lead us to death’s door, but its main impact is to stir the blood in our veins.”
Voir

“A meditation on disease, death, and old age … [A Matter of Gravity] tackles these difficult issues with surprising grace.”
La Presse

About the Contributors

Hélène Vachon

After studying French literature in Quebec and France, Hélène Vachon began working for the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications. Since 1995, she has published two novels, more than twenty works of children’s literature, and a number of translations.

Phyllis Aronoff

Phyllis Aronoff translates fiction, non-fiction, and poetry from French to English. The Wanderer, her translation of Régine Robin’s La Québécoite, received the 1998 Jewish Literary Award for fiction. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, co-translated with Howard Scott, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Howard Scott, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Phyllis Aronoff is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and currently represents translators on the Public Lending Right Commission of Canada.

Howard Scott

Howard Scott is a Montreal literary translator who works with fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His translations include works by Madeleine Gagnon, science-fiction writer Élisabeth Vonarburg, and Canada’s Poet Laureate, Michel Pleau. Scott received the Governor General’s Literary Award for his translation of Louky Bersianik’s The Euguelion. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, which he co-translated with Phyllis Aronoff, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Phyllis Aronoff, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Howard Scott is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada.

A Matter of Gravity cover
A Matter of Gravity

Hélène Vachon
Translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott
Fiction


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