A heartfelt masterpiece about the joys of travel, reading, and companionship.
In rural Canada, dotted along the coast of a vast mauve river, live villagers of different stripes: a recently divorced hydroplane pilot, a factory-worker who closely resembles her fisherman husband, a probing motorcyclist with a pet St. Bernard, a pair of beautiful blonde joggers, and other curious characters.
For all their differences, each is brought together by a soft-spoken man, referred to only as “the Driver,” who travels up and down the coast each season, delivering books to areas not served by libraries and listening closely to the villager’s tales and to their woes.
This summer tour is bound to be different than all the rest. The Driver has made friends with a traveling band of musicians, jugglers, artists, and acrobats who decide to come along for a ride that the Driver has privately decided will be his last.
Jacques Poulin’s compassionate prose delves into the hidden pains of aging and loss without losing sight of the tremendous joy that can be found in making the world a little more livable for other people.
About the authors
Jacques Poulin, born in 1938 in Saint-Gédéon-de-Beauce, Quebec, is one of the leading novelists of his generation. Author of over a dozen novels, including Volkswagen Blues which introduced him to a wider American and Canadian audience he has received many prizes.
Award-winning translator Sheila Fischman has translated over 150 Quebec novels from French to English, including Michel Tremblay, Marie-Claire Blais and Kim Thúy. She is a recipient of the Molson Prize for the Arts.
"Poulin continues his oeuvre of quiet, unimposing fiction with this delicate tale of a Quebec City bookmobile owner whose solitary life is upended after he meets an alluring woman . . . Narrated in ponderous, poetic prose, the brief text successfully harnesses a range of themes, made potent by the melancholy mix of the Driver’s fear of aging and the lure of romance. Poulin once again shows his knack for grace and nuance." —Publishers Weekly
"Poulin’s novel offers a deeply felt meditation on loneliness, age, and the improbability of human connection." —Kirkus Reviews
"Rich with humor, reflection, and the almost palpable magic of books, Autumn Rounds is a novel that explores an intimate yet expansive landscape."—Foreword Reviews (starred review)
"What a luminous little book this is. Nothing could have made me happier than to have it transport me to its realm. Long may its motivations reign—the sheer love of books, an informed awe at the natural world. I felt I was my better self for having read it." —John Silber
"One of my favorite writers in the world is Jacques Poulin."—Rawi Hage
"One of the finest and most underrated novelists in Québec."—The Globe and Mail
"Poulin shares a mix of detached humor, fantasy, and compassion with Vonnegut and Salinger."
"For decades Poulin has been teaching us that great literature can be about small things: the language of love and the love of language, the pleasure of solitude and the grief of loneliness, the value of work and the importance of play. While each of his novels stands on its own, together they create a world that is instantly recognizable and immediately endearing."—Alyson Waters, Yale University
"Poulin is a master of imagery and dialogue: they rest like froth on top of something much more murky and morose: an underlying fear of emptiness."—The Silhouette
Praise for Mister Blue -
"This is a great and very beautiful novel."—Le Devoir
"Jacques Poulin has perfected the art of making simplicity look artless...Told with Hemingway-like sparseness and minimal melodrama...Poulin earns his lump-in-the-throat ending."
Praise for Translation is a Love Affair -
"For Jacques Poulin, in this miniature masterpiece of tenderness and humour, translation is more than the passage from language to language, it is the essence of our human condition: giving and taking, teaching and learning, experiencing and sharing experience, a love affair with our fellow human beings."—Alberto Manguel
"We fall under the spell of this heartwarming, human novel, penned by Jacques Poulin at the summit of his art."—Mieux Vivre
"If familiarity and surprise have become the trademark of Poulin's novels, it is evident that Translation is a Love Affair does not deviate from this model; and Poulin's reader continues to read as he/she would pay a visit to relatives, as much to reoccupy a familiar world as to discover that which is new."—Canadian Literature