Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah
A novel about a Lebanese immigrant to Montreal who works at a weight-loss call centre
A vivid love letter to the 1980s and one woman's struggle to overcome the challenges of immigration.
It's 1986, and Muna Heddad is in a bind. She and her son have moved to Montreal, leaving behind a civil war filled with bad memories in Lebanon. She had plans to find work as a French teacher, but no one in Quebec trusts her to teach the language. She needs to start making money, and fast. The only work Muna can find is at a weight-loss center as a hotline operator.
All day, she takes calls from people responding to ads seen in magazines or on TV. On the phone, she's Mona, and she's quite good at listening. These strangers all have so much to say once someone shows interest in their lives-marriages gone bad, parents dying, isolation, personal inadequacies. Even as her daily life in Canada is filled with invisible barriers at every turn, at the office Muna is privy to her clients' deepest secrets. (From Vehicule Press)
Hotline will be championed by Bhangra dancer Gurdeep Pandher on Canada Reads 2023.
The Canada Reads debates will take place on March 27-30. This year, we are looking for one book to shift your perspective.
They will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem and on CBC Books.
LISTEN | Dimitri Nasrallah on making the Canada Reads longlist:
Hotline was longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was named one of the best works of Canadian fiction in 2022 by CBC Books.
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Dimitri Nasrallah is a writer from Lebanon. He is the author of novels The Bleeds, Niko and Blackbodying. Nasrallah lives in Montreal and is the fiction editor at Véhicule Press.
Why Dimitri Nasrallah wrote Hotline
"Hotline is loosely inspired by my mother's own story. My parents applied for immigration to Canada. One of the things that ended up moving them further up the list was my parents' French skills, specifically my mother being a French teacher by profession.
But now I see just how profoundly complicated it is for someone who just arrives in Canada — and in Quebec specifically — to navigate their way through this society in the first year or two.- Dimitri Nasrallah
"I'm in my mid-40s now, and I find myself in roughly the same space that she was in when she first arrived here. Obviously, I have a much bigger head start because of how long I've lived here, but I understand better now what she had to go through. At the time, I don't think I saw that as clearly. I saw it more from the perspective of this child who was maybe being ignored, who was left to the side. But now I see just how profoundly complicated it is for someone who just arrives in Canada — and in Quebec specifically — to navigate their way through this society in the first year or two."
Read more from his interview on CBC Radio's Let's Go.
More interviews with Dimitri Nasrallah
Other books by Dimitri Nasrallah
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