Books·Canadian

Arvida

Samuel Archibald's collection of short stories paints a vivid portrait of his hometown in Quebec's Saguenay region.

Samuel Archibald, translated by Donald Winkler

Like a Proust-obsessed Cormac McCarthy, Samuel Archibald's portrait of his hometown is filled with innocent children and wild beasts, attempted murder and ritual mutilation, haunted houses and road trips to nowhere, bad men and mysterious women. Gothic, fantastical and incandescent, filled with stories of everyday wonder and terror, longing and love, Arvida explores the line which separates memory from story, and heralds the arrival of an important new voice. (From Biblioasis)

Arvida was a finalist for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

From the book

There was a very beautiful photo from after the war, which was, like all beautiful photos, an empty picture, with practically nothing in it and everything outside it. In it, a dozen bicycles were strewn over the lawn in front of the clinic. Outside the photo, in the building's basement, children were lined up before a large white curtain, waiting to be vaccinated against polio. Outside the photo, the few times I saw it, my grandmother pressed her finger down on it, saying:

"You see? There are no thieves in Arvida."

That's what she said all her life, my grandmother, mother of my father. Except for about twenty years when, from time to time, she looked at my father and said:

"There were no thieves in Arvida. Now there's you."


From Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated by Donald Winkler ©2015. Published by Biblioasis.

Interviews

The five Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists - André Alexis, Samuel Archibald, Rachel Cusk, Heather O’Neill and Anakana Schofield - read the first line of their nominated book and tell CBC Arts why they chose that sentence as their all-important opener. 3:37
The stories that make up Samuel Archibald's "Arvida" are inspired by his hometown in the Saguenay region. Published in French in 2011, the English translation is now shortlisted for the Giller Prize. The author spoke with the CBC's Rachelle Solomon. 12:44