Books·Canadian

The Immaculate Conception

Gaétan Soucy's novel follows a cast of characters navigating the aftermath of a deadly fire in a working-class community.

Gaétan Soucy, translated by Lazer Lederhendler

East-end Montreal in the mid-1920s. A popular restaurant is razed by an arsonist. Seventy-five people perish in the inferno. While strolling with his wheelchair-ridden father, a man furtively salvages a charred icon from the ruins. He is Remouald Tremblay, a self-effacing bank clerk whose pocket holds a treasured rabbit's foot and whose memory contains an unspeakable hell.

Originally published in 1994 as L'Immaculee conception, this is the novel that established Gaetan Soucy as a powerful new literary force in Quebec. In it, he echoes the writing of Edgar Allan Poe and Fyodor Dostoevsky. (From House Of Anansi Press)

From the book

Some ten years had passed since Séraphon Tremblay had lost the use of his limbs, the lower as well as the upper. It had come about naturally and without fuss, almost painlessly, in the way flowers dry out in their pots. Invariably wrapped in his purple robe — part housecoat, part bedsheet — Séraphon resembled a hand-puppet: the rag body, the wooden skull, and that obstinate, grinning expression children see in their bad dreams.


From The Immaculate Conception by Gaétan Soucy, translated by Lazer Lederhendler ©1999. Published by House Of Anansi Press.