A Matter of GravityFront Cover

ISBN: 9780889228405 | paperback / softback

$18.95 | 256 pages | Pub. Date: 2014
5 W × 8.5 H × 1 D inches
Fiction | Backlist | Bisac: FIC019000
ISBN 13: 9780889228405 | Rights: WORLD

A Matter of Gravity is about the forces that draw two men together. Hermann, an embalmer and doctor’s son, devotes himself to the dead to mask his disappointment that, unlike his father, he cannot cure the ­living. Hu is an ailing pianist who dwells in memories of past glory. Hermann displaces his drive for perfection and order onto his elderly neighbours. Hu, ashamed of his lame, knobbed hands, rarely leaves his airless room. Hermann contends he is eternally separated from the world by a “permanent cushion of air” that keeps him wavering between two women and hovering above humanity. Hu is bound to a nightmarish reality, shuffling between emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.

When a mysterious manuscript, possibly written by one of Hermann’s centenarian neighbours, connects one man’s routine with the other’s, an extended afternoon at the park eventually leads back to Hu’s piano. This marks the beginning of the men’s tenuous relationship, which, while healing in nature, is made more fragile by the pianist’s heightened ­mortality.

A Matter of Gravity is a sensitive, delicate, and humorous novel that unfolds in liminal spaces: between life and death, youth and age, earth and sky. By the end of the final, transformative meeting between Hermann and Hu, Vachon gently broaches the question that paralyzes each man and the people whom they love: When faced with terminal ­illness, how do we embrace the unsatisfactory life we leave behind?

By Hélène Vachon

After studying French literature in Quebec and France, Hélène Vachon began working for the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications. Since 1995, she has published two novels, more than twenty works of children’s literature, and a number of translations.

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Translated by Phyllis Aronoff

Phyllis Aronoff translates fiction, non-fiction, and poetry from French to English. The Wanderer, her translation of Régine Robin’s La Québécoite, received the 1998 Jewish Literary Award for fiction. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, co-translated with Howard Scott, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Howard Scott, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Phyllis Aronoff is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and currently represents translators on the Public Lending Right Commission of Canada.

Read more about Phyllis Aronoff


Translated by Howard Scott

Howard Scott is a Montreal literary translator who works with fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His translations include works by Madeleine Gagnon, science-fiction writer Élisabeth Vonarburg, and Canada’s Poet Laureate, Michel Pleau. Scott received the Governor General’s Literary Award for his translation of Louky Bersianik’s The Euguelion. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, which he co-translated with Phyllis Aronoff, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Phyllis Aronoff, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Howard Scott is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada.

Read more about Howard Scott


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