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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.
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.Friday March 17, 2017 in Meta-Talon
All the main characters in this novel are invented, except one. All the towns are real, except for New Babylon. But if such a place were to be imagined, it would be a Wild West town where gunfights are fair play and the law bans only the lawman. It is a perilous place, where the beauty of the desert landscape takes your breath away with the same power as an open blade and a gash to the throat.
On that gruesome note, we hope you enjoy this teaser, lifted from pages 36–38 of In Search of New Babylon.Thursday March 2, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Today on Meta-Talon, please enjoy a very short story from M.A.C. Farrant’s book The Days: Forecasts, Warnings, Advice.
Annual Day happens once a year and it is never good. This year the date is March 2.Thursday February 23, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Migration – the movement of humans from one place to another with the intention of settling – has been top of mind in recent weeks given certain political changes and policy implementations in certain western countries, in recent months in response to the failure of state in Syria and the outflow of refugees from that region, and in recent years characterized by a heightened sensitivity to the possibility of east-west terrorist attacks. Perhaps Canada is a beacon to other states? Or perhaps we still have much learning to do? In the spirit of learning, we recommend twelve Talon books on the topic of migration, refugees, and the immigrant experience.
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.