Canadian

In Search of New Babylon

Dominique Scali's novel In Search of New Babylon is a western re-imagining the American southwest.

Dominique Scali, translated by W. Donald Wilson

This western by a rising Quebec novelist imagines intrigue among the people in an American Southwest town in the 1800s.In this atmospheric, post-Cormac McCarthy western novel, four disparate characters criss-cross the desert in pursuit of an impossible ideal. Along the way, these wily characters captivate and intrigue as they seek the American dream in a lawless town in the 1860s. Reverend Aaron is found lying unconscious on the dusty trail to a family farm somewhere in southern Utah. His hands have been severed at the wrists. On the body are only a few Bibles and sermons. Is he a preacher or a thief?

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.

Explore the Governor General's Literary Award finalists for translation: