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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.
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.Thursday February 9, 2017 in Meta-Talon
From 1988 until the end of 2016, Salt-Water Moon was in print with its original yellow cover, which featured now-outdated type design and a production still from one of the original productions of this sweet play. Now, as the play experiences something of a revival, and as the book goes into its eighth printing, we are pleased to show off the newly redesigned cover of Salt-Water Moon.Thursday February 2, 2017 in Meta-Talon
By Carl Peters
On Meta-Talon today, please enjoy the full text of the presentation given by Carl Peters, recently the author of Studies in Description, to an audience of about 100 attendees at the Modern Languages Association convention in Philadelphia, PA, on January 7, 2017.
Look, I realize that my abstract is more than an abstract but what follows is just a small part of what I could do. I’m going to talk around Hemingway’s greatest achievement, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” presenting my comments as a Cubist meditation on the Modern Condition (with reference to Duchamp and some others)…Thursday January 19, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Empire of the Son is the story of two generations of CBC broadcasters and the radio silence between them. It premiered in Vancouver in 2016 and was nominated for six Jessie Richardson Awards, and Tetsuro Shigematsu is currently touring Empire of the Son across Canada. Empire of the Son is also the first Talon book to be published in the Spring 2017 season – it’s now available! – and we invite you to read brief but tantalizing excerpts on Meta-Talon.
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.