The Next Chapter

Catherine Leroux recommends two Quebec novels now available in English

The Montreal author reviews You Will Love What You Have Killed by Kevin Lambert, translated by Donald Winkler, and The Imago Stage by Karoline Georges, translated by Rhonda Mullins.
Catherine Leroux is the Quebec author of the short story collection The Party Wall. (Jimmy Jeong)

This interview originally aired on September 25, 2021.

Catherine Leroux is an award-winning writer, translator and journalist from Montreal. She was shortlisted for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel The Party Wall, which is an English translation of her French-language short story collection Le mur mitoyen.

Leroux spoke with Shelagh Rogers about two novels by Quebec authors that have recently been translated in English. 

You Will Love What You Have Killed by Kevin Lambert, translated by  Donald Winkler

Quebec writer Kevin Lambert is the author of You Will Love What You Have Killed. (Biblioasis, Gregory Augendre-Cambron)

"Kevin Lambert is, in my humble opinion, one of the most exciting and relevant voices to emerge from Quebec in the last few years. This is his first novel and was published in French when he was only 24. Interestingly, he describes it as a form of autobiographical fiction, even though the story is totally fantastical. 

The style of the book matches the narrative. It's very alive, acrobatic. It's a writing style that surprises at every turn.

"With You Will Love What You Have Killed, he transformed the material from his own life as a queer youth in Quebec. He hid the facts to retain only the truth of his experience and his emotions. The style of the book matches the narrative. It's very alive, acrobatic. It's a writing style that surprises at every turn.

"The translator that was chosen to do it is Donald Winkler, who's one of the most seasoned and celebrated translators in the country. I thought he did an incredible job rendering the fast pace of Lambert's prose. He also was attentive to the aural quality of the prose, and he kept very close to spoken language, which is another trait of the style that I enjoyed."

The Imago Stage by Karoline Georges, translated by Rhonda Mullins

The Imago Stage is a book by Karoline Georges. (Yannick Forest, Coach House Books)

"The story is of a woman who is never named, who pursues a lifelong search for the perfect image. She grows up in a suburban home filled with her mother's depression and her father's violence. She finds refuge in front of the TV. This is the '80s, so her idol is Olivia Newton-John. She thinks she's so fabulous and beautiful, and she's obsessed with her.

"Then she grows up, and as soon as she's able to, she leaves home to move to Paris, where she starts a modelling career. It's interesting to read those pages because it's really not the glamorous life one would imagine, because our protagonist is rather introverted.

Rhonda Mullins did a beautiful job with this text, and it feels almost as if someone is whispering really intense, fundamental truths softly in your ear.

"Our protagonist comes back to Montreal with enough money to retire not only from her career, but from the world. She finds an apartment with a studio, which becomes her entire world.

"She stops going outside and spends her days working on digital creations, especially her 3D avatar, which embodies the narrator's pursuit of the perfect image — the absolute expression of the human face of female beauty, which she can never entirely grasp. Despite her talent and proficiency, it's really something that just keeps escaping her."

"The translation was done by one of my favourite translators, Rhonda Mullins, and she's fantastic. She did a beautiful job with this text where the writing style is powerful but understated, and it feels almost as if someone is whispering really intense, fundamental truths softly in your ear. That's what it feels like to read the French, and that's what it feels like to read the translation."

Catherine Leroux's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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