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Monday March 29, 2010 in Books
In the heart of the Latin Quarter, meeting place of marginal characters of all sorts, Céline Poulin works the night shift at a cheap and popular restaurant, Le Sélect, serving hamburger platters and spaghetti and meatballs to student misfits, transvestites, hookers and queens from the Main—Montreal’s disreputable Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Hanging out with a theatre company in her off hours, Céline sees opening before her a world where it is not only possible, but even desirable to pretend. When the director offers her a role in The Trojan Women, the die is cast.
The Black Notebook is Céline’s diary, her account of her trials and tribulations, her expectations and her cruel disappointments, because this young waitress at the Sélect has her own dramatic story to tell, even if only to herself: Céline is a midget.
From the theatre of Euripides to the theatre of Montreal’s Main, Michel Tremblay—our Balzac—creates and gives voice to some astonishing new characters in this first of a new series of novels. For the characters of The Black Notebook, the first in this trilogy, life is a comedy that barely conceals the cruel and pitiless tragedy of the everyday. With a transcendent eloquence and compassion, Michel Tremblay celebrates how it is possible for Céline to embrace her difference and to flourish—despite that difference, or perhaps, because of it.
ISBN 13: 9780889225435 | ISBN 10: 889225435
6 W x 9 H x 1 D inches | 224 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Michel Tremblay succeeds in building a rich and tangible universe. The Black Notebook possesses a rare intelligence in painting lively portraits of those in struggle, who do not play by established rules and who cannot be defined by absolutes.”
“The themes dear to Michel Tremblay can be found in this novel: humiliation, marginality, parent-child relationships, the difficulty of being different … ”
“Tremblay’s work has always been marked by his compassion for the underdog—women more often than not—and The Black Notebook continues that tradition … The Black Notebook emerges as a powerful character study, a social history—as always with Tremblay, the political content is there, but always as an organic element of the story—as well as a love letter to the world of the theatre.”
—Montreal Review of Books
“Few will fail to empathize with the demi-heroine featuring in The Black Notebook’s pages … Despite the sometimes inescapable seriousness of his material, Tremblay will induce chortles, chuckles and belly laughs in hapless readers, not to mention expanding upon the delight readers will no doubt take in his mastery of caricature. With a stroke here, a telling detail there, he creates characters who linger in the mind to participate in a marvellously mysterious mental dance. … The internationally revered playwright continues to prove his prowess, economically telegraphing the anguish of savaged youth evaporating into an anonymous and opaque past, which can only be rescued by brave new words and lovingly shaping a fictional world that magnifies, clarifies and illuminates our own obdurate existence.”
—Globe and Mail
About the ContributorsMichel Tremblay
One of the most produced and the most prominent playwrights in the history of Canadian theatre, Michel Tremblay has received countless prestigious honours and accolades. His dramatic, literary and autobiographical works have long enjoyed remarkable international popularity, including translations of his plays that have achieved huge success in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
Awards and Recognition*
Prix du Grand (2009) La Traversée de la ville (Leméac Editeur Inc.)
Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix (2006)
Globe and Mail Top 100 Books (2003) Birth of a Bookworm
Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (2000) For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again
Chalmers Awards (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1986, 1989, 2000)
Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (1999)
Molson Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1994)
Louis-Hémon Prize (1994)
Montreal Book Fair Grand Public Prize (1994)
Banff Centre National Award (1992)
Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France (1991)
Chevalier of the Order of Quebec (1990)
San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Festival Long-Standing Public Service Award (1989)
CBC Anik Prize (1988)
Athanase-David Lifetime Achievement Prize (1988)
Quebec-Paris Prize (1985)
Chevalier of Arts and Letters of France (1984).
Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Sheila Fischman was raised in Ontario and is a graduate of the University of Toronto. She is a founding member of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and has also been a columnist for the Globe and Mail and Montreal Gazette, a broadcaster with CBC Radio, and literary editor of the Montreal Star. She now devotes herself full time to literary translation, specializing in contemporary Quebec fiction, and has translated more than 125 Quebec novels by, among others, Michel Tremblay, Jacques Poulin, Anne Hébert, François Gravel, Marie-Claire Blais, and Roch Carrier.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.