This award-winning novel by playwright Wadji Mouawad is a thriller and a road novel – written in the North African storytelling tradition in which events unfold from an animal point of view.
The novel opens with a brutal murder: the protagonist arrives home to find his wife lying in a pool of blood. Driven by grief and the need to find whoever did this – “I want to see his face, I want to know who he is” – the protagonist sets out on desperate journey from Montreal to Indian reserves along the Canada–U.S. border, south through Civil War sites in the Midwest, to Animas, New Mexico. The furious odyssey awakens long-buried memories that make present circumstances even more painful.
This masterful novel is told in a bestiary of voices, more than fifty animals, birds, and insects, each with their own characterization and style of speaking, reveal the unflattering contrast between the human and the natural. Violent and dark, the novel nevertheless moves beyond the thriller genre to become a book of multiple levels, rich in symbolism and open to complex interpretation. While set in North America, Mouawad’s Lebanese roots suffuse the text, which becomes an examination of cultural influences and at the same time an excavation of childhood trauma and the legacy of war.
Anima has resonated with readers worldwide. It’s been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, and Catalan. It won the Thyde Monnier Grand Prize from the Société des Gens de Lettres, the Mediterranean Prize, the Literary Prize for a Second Novel in Laval, the Golden Alga Award, the Phoenix Award (as part of the Beirut Spring Festival), and the Catalan Llibreter Prize for Foreign Novel, all in 2012 and 2013. In 2015, Anima won the Lire en Poche, a prize awarded annually in France in celebration of the paperback book. An elegant translation by Linda Gaboriau brings this celebrated novel to English readers.
About the authors
Wajdi Mouawad was born in Lebanon in 1968. Mouawad fled the war-torn country with his family; they lived in Paris for a few years, then settled in Montreal. In 1991, shortly after graduating from the National Theatre School, he embarked on a career as an actor, writer, director, and producer. In all his work, from his own playsâÂ?Â?a dozen so far, including JournÃ©e de noces chez les Cromagnons (Wedding Day at the Cro-MagnonsâÂ?Â?), Littoral (Tideline), and Incendies (Scorched- which served as the basis for the Academy Award nominated film Incendies)âÂ?Â?Wajdi Mouawad is guided by the central notion that âÂ?Â?all art bears witness to human existence through the prism of beauty.âÂ?Â From 2000âÂ?Â?2004 he was the artistic director of MontrealâÂ?Â?s ThÃ©Ã¢tre de QuatâÂ?Â?Sous; in 2005 he founded two companies specializing in the development of new work: AbÃ© carrÃ© cÃ© carrÃ© in Canada (with Emmanuel Schwartz), and Au carrÃ© de lâÂ?Â?hypotÃ©nuse in France. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours for his writing and directing, including the 2000 Governor GeneralâÂ?Â?s Literary Award for Drama (Littoral), the 2002 Chevalier de lâÂ?Â?Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres (France) and the 2004 Prix de la Francophonie. He is currently Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre French Theatre.
Linda Gaboriau is a dramaturge and literary translator renowned for her translations of some 100 plays and novels by some of Quebec's most prominent writers, including many of the Quebec plays best known to English Canadian audiences. After studying French language and literature at McGill University, she freelanced as a journalist for the CBC and the Montreal Gazette. She has worked in Canadian and Québécois theatre and is founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre, where she directed numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. Her third translation of a Wajdi Mouawad play Forests in 2010 won her a second Governor General's Literary Award for translation. Originally from Boston, Linda Gaboriau has been based in Montreal since 1963. David Homel is a writer, journalist, filmmaker, and translator. He is the author of five previous novels, including The Speaking Cure, which won the J.I. Segal Award of the Jewish Public Library, and the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Best Fiction from the Quebec Writer's Federation. He has also written two children's books, including Travels with my Family, which was co-authored with his wife, Canadian children's author Marie-Louise Gay. He has translated several French works, receiving two Governor General's Literary Awards for translation. Homel was born and raised in Chicago and currently resides in Montreal.Maureen Labonté is a dramaturge, translator and teacher. She has also coordinated a number of play-development programs in theatres and playwrights' centres across the country. In 2006, she was named head of program for the Banff playRites Colony at The Banff Centre. She was dramaturge at the Colony from 2003-2005. She was also literary manager in charge of play development at the Shaw Festival from 2002-2004. Previous to that, she worked at the National Theatre School of Canada (NTSC), first developing and running a pilot directing program and then coordinating the playwrighting program and playwrights' residency. She still teaches at NTSC. She has translated more than thirty Quebec plays into English. Recent translations include: The Bookshop by Marie-Josée Bastien, Everybody's WELLES pour tous by Patrice Dubois, Martin Labreque and The Tailor's Will by Michel Ouellette, Wigwam by Jean-Frédéric Messier and Bienvenue à (une ville dont vous êtes le touriste) by Olivier Choinière.
- Winner, Prix Méditerranée
- Winner, Prix du deuxieme roman
- Winner, Grand Prix Thyde Monnier
Praise for the French novel:
"This enigmatic character will be seen in the course of the novel by unusual witnesses to his experience, but immediately the reader understands that Wahhch is himself a sort of stranger in the Camusian sense of the term; foreign to the world, he dissociates himself to the point that he is almost deliberately schizophrenic in order to endure the pain that afflicts him. It is precisely the agony that he drags along with him, a silent, diffuse, animal pain, imprinted from childhood, we learn later, which is felt by the least living being in contact with him, from the cat to the raven, through the earthworm, the gnat, the skunk, the vulture ... and even the reader (Lector lectoransis domesticus)."