cover image Life in the Court of Matane

Life in the Court of Matane

Eric Dupont, trans. from the French by Peter McCambridge. Baraka Books/QC Fiction (IPG, dist.), $20 trade paper (265p) ISBN 978-1-77186-076-5

This novel from Dupont (La Logeuse), the first from a new fiction imprint dedicated to publishing “the very best of a new generation of Quebec storytellers in flawless English translation,” lives up to that ambition. It tells the story of Eric, a boy growing up in small-town Quebec in the 1970s and ’80s. His father, whom he calls Henry VIII, divorces Eric’s mother, dubbed Catherine of Aragon, and takes Eric and his sister away with his new wife, Anne Boleyn, who is in turn replaced by Jane Seymour. The children must abide by Henry VIII’s edicts, the principle one of which is to forget their mother. By turns poignant, playful, and nostalgic, the book evokes ’70s Quebec with the quirky but successful device of combining an autobiographical family story with motifs drawn from fable, history, politics and myth. Despite the relaxed social mores brought about by Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, these baby boomers and their children still have much to struggle against in their society, a struggle exacerbated by their uneasy relationships with one another. Translator McCambridge beautifully captures the joyous top notes and the darker undercurrents of this fascinating voice. (July)