Nepveu, Mavrikakis, Leblanc: Quebec’s impressive fall literary season

The books are hardly out, the reviews hardly in, but Quebec’s fall literary season got well under way last week with the publication  of Pierre Nepveu’s 900-page biography of the poet and activist Gaston Miron, who was born in Ste-Agathe in the Laurentians in 1928 and died in 1996.

What is significant about Gaston Miron: La vie d’un homme (Boréal) is not just the subject, although it would be difficult to overstate the importance of Miron as a literary figure in Quebec. It is the quality of the historical, cultural, political and literary analysis Nepveu brings to bear on his subject. And, not least, it is the fact that Nepveu is the biographer.

Pierre Nepveu

 A distinguished poet, fiction writer and essayist – he may be unique in having won the Governor General’s award in all three categories – Nepveu is also one of the most respected literary scholars in today’s Quebec. His biography, in the works for the past 10 years, is being received with respect if not awe

 

While the Miron biography is a considerable assessment of the one of the great figures of nationalist Quebec, the publication this month of a new novel by Catherine Mavrikakis is an event, too, and one of the surest signs of vitality among a younger generation of Quebec writers.

 

Born in Chicago in 1961 to a French mother and a Greek father, Mavrikakis spent her childhood in the Montreal area as well as in France and the United States. Her novel Le ciel de Bay City (Héliotrope) won the Grand prix du livre de Montréal in 2008 in competition with Rawi Hage, Monique Proulx, Dany Laferrière, and Marie-Claire Blais.

[Addendum posted on September 27, 2011: Am just back tonight from the Pacific Northwest, where I took this photograph on the way into Bay City]:

Mavrikakis's new novel is Les dernier jours de Smokey Nelson (Héliotrope). 


Perrine Leblanc

And then there’s Montrealer Perrine Leblanc, aged 31, who is a very bright new star on the literary horizon. Not only did she win the Grand prix du livre de Montreal for her first novel L'homme blanc (Le Quartanier) last fall, but she followed that up in March by winning Le Combat des livres, which is Radio-Canada’s answer to Canada Reads.

 

Her novel has now been picked up by none other than Gallimard for publication later this fall as part of its famed “Collection blanche” in France and internationally.


Linda Leith

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