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A new essay in The Millions magazine hails French author Maylis de Kerangal as “France’s Unlikely Literary Rebel” and argues that her use, in her multiple award-winning novels, of unconventional lexicons and registers bites its thumb at more staid modes of writing:
De Kerangal’s books delight in a lexical mix. Sometimes in her fiction, as in her conversation, de Kerangal vacillates between French and English. … So too, her linguistic register shifts without pause. … De Kerangal has proven that serious themes don’t have to be dealt with in the grave, straightforward manner … rather, she shows that a novel comes alive when it is unconstrained by a single tone or linguistic register. Perhaps de Kerangal’s most meaningful achievement has been to chip away at what it means to be a fiction writer in France, a concept she has struggled with since her adolescence. She has escaped the prescriptive definition of “writer” as narrow and elitist, and in doing so, has created novels that connect with a wider audience.
Read the full essay for direct comments from de Kerangal herself and a fuller exploration by essayist Cody Delistraty of how de Kerangal’s style is changing the French literary landscape.
Another new review in the Montreal Review of Books, written by Aimee Wall and also published early this week, also praises the language in de Kerangal’s most recent novel, Mend the Living – and takes especial note of the quality of translation into English by Jessica Moore:
The narrative is expertly paced … De Kerangal writes in long sentences that heap clause upon clause, descriptive phrases that would seem to be at odds with the efficient, streamlined language of the processes they describe. And yet, by creating the sense of narrating events almost in real time, these long, rhythmic sentences convey something important about the passage of time on a day in which every moment, every detail, is critical. … These seemingly endless sentences occasionally almost teeter over into the melodramatic, but the novel is never mawkish. Jessica Moore’s translation work here is exceptional. French tends to be more forgiving of the endless sentence, the series of clauses, but de Kerangal’s page-long phrases are rendered deftly and gracefully in Moore’s English translation. … Moore’s translation is sensitive and precise.
By R. Kolewe
Inspecting Nostalgia is a new collection of poetry by R. Kolewe. This, his second collection, brings together found text and fragments of various writers’ work with scraps from his own journals.
In this third week of National Poetry Month 2017, and in advance of Kolewe’s Toronto launch on May 8, please enjoy two poems from the collection on Meta-Talon.Thursday April 13, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Stephen Collis’s latest collection of poetry is nominated for the 2017 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. It rethinks the relationship between human beings and the natural world and searches for ways we can continue to resist. Today on Meta-Talon, we offer a section from “Reading Wordsworth in the Tar Sands,” the second long poem in Once in Blockadia.Monday April 10, 2017 in Meta-Talon
For you, in solidarity, during this National Poetry Month, a poem from Jónína Kirton’s new collection.Thursday March 23, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Critically acclaimed poet and Vancouver native Adeena Karasick was in her hometown last month to celebrate the donation of her archive to Simon Fraser University. The Collection of Contemporary Literature at SFU’s Bennett Library contains one of the biggest selections of avant-garde poetry in North America.
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.