Songs for the Cold of Heart
Eric Dupont, translated by Peter McCambridge
A yarn to rival the best of them, a big fat whopper of a tall tale that bounces around from provincial Rivière-du-Loup in 1919 to Nagasaki, 1990s Berlin, Rome and beyond. This is the story of a century — long and glorious, stuffed full of parallels, repeating motifs and unforgettable characters — with the passion and plotting of a modern-day Tosca. (From QC Fiction)
Songs for the Cold of Heart was on the shortlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and is a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for translation. The original French version of the novel, La Fiancée Américaine published in 2012, won Quebec's top two literary prizes, the Prix des libraires and Prix des collégiens, and sold over 60,000 copies in the province.
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From the Scotiabank Giller Prize jury: "Once upon a time in Quebec there was a girl named Madeleine. A tiny red headed waif with only a suitcase in her possession steps off a train in a frozen village, and a strapping Quebec man falls head over heels in love with her strangeness. A baby is born from this union that is so big, it manages to kill both its parents in childbirth. As magnificent a work of irony and magic as the boldest works of Gabriel García Márquez, but with a wholly original sensibility that captures the marvellous obsessions of the Quebecois zeitgeist of the 20th century. It is without a doubt, a tour de force. And the translation is as exquisite as a snowflake."
From the book
Years before her mother bundled her onto a coach bound for New York City in a December blizzard, Madeleine Lamontagne had been a little girl who loved Easter bunnies, Christmas trees, and the stories told by her dad Louis Lamontagne. Nothing out of the ordinary there. After all, everyone loved to hear Louis "The Horse" Lamontagne's tall tales. Before television, his stories were the best way to pass the time in Rivière-du-Loup.
As any drinking man in Rivière-du-Loup will tell you, it was TV that killed the Horse, not the combustion engine. They'll also tell you — and there's no reason to doubt them — that any man's story, wherever he may be, never finds a more attentive ear than his daughter's, especially if she is the oldest and as such occupies a special place of her own in her father's heart. All of which is to say that Louis "The Horse" Lamontagne, or Papa Louis as the children of Rivière-du-Loup liked to call him, never had a more attentive audience than his little Madeleine, sitting right there on the sofa in her father's funeral home on Rue Saint-François-Xavier, in the parish of the same name, in the town of Rivière-du-Loup in the province of Quebec.
From Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric Dupont, translated by Peter McCambridge ©2018. Published by QC FIction.