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Friday June 16, 2017 in Books
Arsenault’s Rabelaisian fantasy is a gothic tale of the macabre and the bizarre, of black magicians and alchemists, and of the life and times of Zora Marjanna Lavanko, the daughter of a brutish tripe-dresser who dies for love. This surreal novel is set in the murky fictional domain of the Fredavian Forest, in the very real province of Karelia, then a part of the Grand Duchy of Finland, in the closing years of the nineteenth century.
Many years of work brought forth this finely rendered fantasy. While some readers might be put off by the cruelty, violence, and mayhem of the text, those who persist will be rewarded with black humour and the fine display of a full range of human emotion. Rabelaisan certainly, but Zora is also inspired by the legends of the ancient Finns as well as other epic literary fantasies.
The English reader will feel that the text, deftly translated by Fred A. Reed and David Homel, carries overtones of Mervyn Peake. Despite this ornate style, the narrative has surprising pace, perhaps because the reader is busy trying to keep his or her jaw from hanging open.
The original French novel won the 2013 Robert-Cliche Prize, awarded to an author for a first novel (but not a first work).
ISBN 13: 9781772011753 | ISBN 10:
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 392 pages
$19.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Fiction | Frontlist
QUOTES OF NOTE
Praise for the French novel
“This book is a masterpiece, an immense pleasure in reading, and the highly worked, mastered work of a real writer. One enters in order not to leave, one takes delight in the gluttony, the violence, and the humour that mark each page.”
—Colette Lens, jury member, Robert-Cliche Prize
Robert-Cliche Prize (Winner)
About the ContributorsPhilippe Arseneault
Philippe Arseneault is a Quebec writer of unparalleled erudition and humour.Fred A. Reed
International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. Reed is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation.David Homel
Award-winning author and literary translator David Homel also works as a journalist, editor and screenwriter.
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.