Canada Reads·Canadian

The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant

Michel Tremblay's novel is set in Montreal in the 1940s, where ordinary women are caught up in circumstances that range from ridiculous to sublime.

Michel Tremblay, translated by Sheila Fischman

This exuberant novel offers a lively portrait of a working-class neighbourhood in Montreal in the early 1940s. Though author Michel Tremblay doesn't shy away from depicting the harsh realities of life, he also shows the inhabitants' joie de vivre. There's a large cast of colourful characters, including, in a touch of the mythic, the three Fates, in the guise of knitters Rose, Violette and Mauve.

The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant was a contender for Canada Reads 2009, when it was defended by Anne-Marie Withenshaw.

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From the book

Rose, Violette and Mauve were knitting. From time to time, Rose (or Violette, or Mauve) would put her knitting on her lap, cast a half-amused, half-severe glance at her sisters' work and say: "You're knitting too loose" or: "I'm glad Momma didn't give me that colour yarn!" or then again, she might say nothing at all. If she was inactive for too long, one of her sisters would look at her. "Finish your bootie, then you can daydream." And Rose (or Violette, or Mauve) would sigh discreetly and take up her work again.

From The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay, translated by Sheila Fischman ©1981. Published by Talonbooks.

Author interviews

Michel Tremblay reflects on his career

29 years ago
Duration 18:21
Michel Tremblay looks back on his life with CBC's Dennis Trudeau.
This week our 2003 conversation with one of Quebec's most influential writers Michel Tremblay. In a career spanning over 40 years, he's written a cycle of plays, a sextet of novels, a trilogy of memoirs, translations, song lyrics, and much much more.

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Michel Tremblay's childhood on the wrong side of town

48 years ago
Duration 3:31
Tremblay tours the neighbourhood where he grew up in Montreal.