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Turkana Boy
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Monday January 23, 2012 in Books

Turkana Boy

By Jean-François Beauchemin
Translated by Jessica Moore

In this contemplative novel-poem, Jean-François Beauchemin invites us to share in the inner world of the grieving Mr. Bartolomé, who, following the mysterious disappearance of his young son, wanders and wonders, seeking to transcend his pain by encountering something larger than himself. Continuously occupied by the memory of his lost son, Bartolomé’s quest leads him from the city to the countryside and then to the edge of the ocean, where he marvels at the beauty of nature but cannot penetrate its mysteries.

Through reference to the two-million-year-old “Turkana Boy,” the fossilized remains of a boy found in 1984 near Lake Turkana, Kenya, Beauchemin addresses processes of memory and the long history of human evolution. Beauchemin’s character Bartolomé sees in the lives of the boys—separated by nearly two million years—a kind of twin destiny. Has the passage of millennia changed the intensity of human feeling at the loss of blood relations? “Who knows what they had felt? Had the same emotions, those associated with incommensurable loss, broken their bodies, as they had his? Over and above morphological differences sculpted by the passage of millennia, was there something resembling a permanence of feeling, a sort of eternity for the murmuring of the heart, transmitted through the ages by the bonds of blood?”

Turkana Boy offers a poignant examination of grieving and one man’s search for understanding. This surrealist narrative is punctuated with magnificent musings on the world and startling questions about what it means to be alive.

ISBN 13: 9780889226906 | ISBN 10: 889226903
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 144 pages
16.95 CAN / 16.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
1 Edition


“Reading Jean-François Beauchemin is an experience in itself. It’s like an exercise in meditation; like pausing in front of a particular image, in a suspended moment. It is him in the image—as he projects himself—but it is ourselves that we see, or rather those aspects of our own lives which have escaped us.”
—Le Devoir

“[Jean-François Beauchemin] is an author known for his writings about life, full of deep and heartfelt reflection. He opens the door wide to allow us into the core of his being. He is the kind of person you meet and with whom, after the first sentence, and without quite knowing why, you are talking earnestly about the meaning of life.”
—Le Passe Mot

“An excellent novel and an extremely beautiful reflection that will move the reader deeply.”

“Grace of writing, depth of feeling and a plea for the beauty of things: Jean-François Beauchemin continues to set himself apart as a remarkable novelist.”
—ELLE Quebec

“The universe of Jean-François Beauchemin’s novels is haunted by the ghost of childhood—its naiveté and purity as much as its cruelty and wildness.”

“Beauchemin’s writing falls on us like a mist, like sorrow, slowly, in the soft nightfall of things.”
—Radio Basse-Ville

About the Contributors

Jean-François Beauchemin

Jean-François Beauchemin has been called “one of the best-kept secrets” of Quebecois literature. He is the recipient of the 2005 Prix France-Québec / Jean Hamelin for Le jour des corneilles and the 2007 Prix des libraires for La fabrication de l’aube. Most recently, Beauchemin wrote a trilogy of semi-autobiographical books exploring “the tragic beauty of the world,” which, like Turkana Boy, explore grief, wonder and the nature of the soul.

Jessica Moore

Jessica Moore is an author and a translator. She is a former Lannan writer-in-residence, a Banff International Literary Translation Centre fellow, and she is VP for Ontario for the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada.

Turkana Boy cover
Turkana Boy

Jean-François Beauchemin
Translated by Jessica Moore

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