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Fiction Literary

A Covenant of Salt

by (author) Martine Desjardins

translated by Fred A. Reed & David Homel

Publisher
Talonbooks
Initial publish date
Sep 2008
Category
Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780889225664
    Publish Date
    Sep 2008
    List Price
    $17.95

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Description

Since the death of her parents in 1791, Lily McEvoy has lived as a recluse in her isolated Armagh County manor with her two maidservants and Titus, the farmhand who has become her whipping boy. But tonight, the heiress is expecting company. Her guest is Master Anselm, the legendary stone cutter who has transformed the estate’s abandoned salt mine into an immense funerary monument to the memory of the McEvoy family, sculpting bas-reliefs in the chapels, crypts and tombs he has carved out of the rock salt of its cavernous walls.

Lily is sniffing powdered salt in the attic as she summons the shadow of her father, the cruel Irish Rear Admiral Magnus McEvoy, hero of the capture of Quebec and absolute master of his estate, and of her mother, the mysterious Laurence, she of the webbed feet who emerged from the river of a stormy night.

But the same salt that has preserved Lily’s memories is desiccating her. Her obsession with the past now risks transforming her, like Lot’s wife, into a pillar of salt—crystallized by the family’s abominable secrets. These secrets, and the instrument of her revenge, she will today finally reveal to Anselm over their precipitous evening meal.

Drawing from the history of the conquest of Quebec and Irish legend, this is an exotic new way to tell a very old story.

About the authors

Martine Desjardins
Born in the Town of Mount Royal in Quebec, Martine Desjardins worked as an assistant editor-in-chief at ELLE Québec magazine for four years before leaving to devote herself to writing. Presently she works as a free-lance rewriter, translator and journalist for L’actualité, an award-winning French-language current affairs magazine in Canada. Her first novel, Le cercle de Clara was published by Leméac in 1997, and was nominated for both the Prix littéraires du Québec and the Grand prix des lectrices Elle Québec in 1998. It has been published by Talonbooks in English as Fairy Ring.
Fred A. Reed
International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. After several years as a librarian and trade union activist at the Montreal Gazette, Reed began reporting from Islamic Iran in 1984, visiting the Islamic Republic thirty times since then. He has also reported extensively on Middle Eastern affairs for La Presse, CBC Radio-Canada and Le Devoir. Reed is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation.
David Homel
Award-winning author and literary translator David Homel also works as a journalist, editor and screenwriter. He was born in Chicago in 1952 but left at the end of the tumultuous 1960s and continued his education in Europe and Toronto before settling in Montreal in around 1980. He worked at a variety of industrial jobs before beginning to write fiction in the mid-1980s. His six novels to date have been translated into several languages and published around the world.

Martine Desjardins' profile page

International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. Anatolia Junction, his acclaimed work on the unacknowledged wars of the Ottoman succession, has been translated in Turkey, where it enjoys a wide following. Shattered Images, which explores the origins of contemporary fundamentalist movements in Islam, has also been translated into Turkish, and into French as Images brisées (VLB éditeur, Montréal).

After several years as a librarian and trade union activist at the Montreal Gazette, Reed began reporting from Islamic Iran in 1984, visiting the Islamic Republic thirty times since then. He has also reported extensively on Middle Eastern affairs for La Presse, CBC Radio-Canada and Le Devoir.

A three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation, plus a nomination in 2009 for his translation of Thierry Hentsch’s Le temps aboli, Empire of Desire. Reed has translated works by many of Québec’s leading authors, several in collaboration with novelist David Homel, as well as by Nikos Kazantzakis and other modern Greek writers.

Reed worked with documentarist Jean-Daniel Lafond on two documentary films: Salam Iran, a Persian Letter and American Fugitive. The two later collaborated on Conversations in Tehran (Talonbooks, 2006). He is currently working on a memoir. Fred A. Reed resides in Montréal.

Fred A. Reed's profile page

David Homel has translated over 30 books, many by Quebec authors. He won the Governor General's Literary Award in translation in 1995 for Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? by Dany Laferrière; his translation of Laferrière's How to Make Love to a Negro was nominated in 1988; and he won the prize in 2001 with fellow translator Fred A. Reed for Fairy Wing. His novels, which include Sonya & Jack, Electrical Storms, and The Speaking Cure have been published in several languages. Homel lives in Montreal, Quebec.

David Homel's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Mining from the past, Desjardins extracts treasures without 'getting caught,' and surfaces like a breath of fresh air. A Covenant of Salt marries literary traditions in a sleek gothic ceremony, silvery salt sprinkled like confetti and the Saint Lawrence coursing through.
Montreal Review of Books

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