Bonbons Assortis / Assorted Candies is Michel Tremblay’s fourth (and he says last) book of autobiographical narratives inspired by his childhood and youth. Like the previous three volumes, which celebrate the books, plays and films that shaped his imagination and writing life, this collection of eight delightful stories takes us back to Tremblay’s formative years in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal, offering the reader poignant and joyful childhood memories as varied as the assorted candies his mother hoarded under her bed, to be shared only on the most festive or dramatic of family occasions.
Here we get to see the world through the eyes of young Michel, who is often discovered observing the other nine members of the bustling household on Fabre Street from his hiding place under the dining-room table. His mother, Nana (immortalized in the play For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again), dominates these memories; but the tender, cherished moments shared with his father, along with his prickly paternal grandmother and irascible aunt (who inspired his unforgettable character Albertine), also profoundly shape this child’s view of the world. Neighbours, from whom the family haplessly tries to hide their poverty with dignity, brothers and an uncle (who, telephoning from the local tavern, claims to be Santa calling from the North Pole), complete the rich and colourful cast of characters in this exquisite remembrance of childhood past.
About the authors
One of the most produced and the most prominent playwrights in the history of Canadian theatre, Michel Tremblay has received countless prestigious honours and accolades. His dramatic, literary and autobiographical works have long enjoyed remarkable international popularity, including translations of his plays that have achieved huge success in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
Awards and Recognition*
Prix du Grand (2009) La Traversée de la ville (Leméac Editeur Inc.)
Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix (2006)
Globe and Mail Top 100 Books (2003) Birth of a Bookworm
Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (2000) For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again
Chalmers Awards (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1986, 1989, 2000)
Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (1999)
Molson Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1994)
Louis-Hémon Prize (1994)
Montreal Book Fair Grand Public Prize (1994)
Banff Centre National Award (1992)
Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France (1991)
Chevalier of the Order of Quebec (1990)
San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Festival Long-Standing Public Service Award (1989)
CBC Anik Prize (1988)
Athanase-David Lifetime Achievement Prize (1988)
Quebec-Paris Prize (1985)
Chevalier of Arts and Letters of France (1984)
John Van Burek
John Van Burek has been a practising theatre artist for over 20 years, in both French and English, throughout Canada. He has also worked in the fields of opera, film and television. He is also one of Canada’s leading translators for theatre, most notably of Michel Tremblay’s plays, including Les Belles-Soeurs (Talonbooks). Mr. Van Burek has received several awards and citations for his work, including the Toronto Drama Bench Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Canadian Theatre.
Born in Quebec, William Grant (?Bill”) Glassco was a Canadian theatre director, producer and founder of Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre. He then became the artistic director of the CentreStage Theatre Company which merged, in 1988, with the Toronto Free Theatre to become CanStage. In 1982, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
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.
- Short-listed, Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation
“The best of Tremblay can be found in these Assorted Candies: the unparalleled dialogist, the prodigious portraitist, the attentive memorialist, and above all, the writer who manages to retain the childhood sense of wonder.”
“It’s vintage Tremblay (out-Prousting Proust), filled with primal privations and inspirations of awe, a family’s love and terrors, the stuff that makes a writer a writer: Family. Church. Lust. Poverty. The whole enthralling works.”
– Globe and Mail
“Linda Gaboriau elegantly transports the English reader into the bustling world of Michel Tremblay’s childhood. She maintains the narrative simplicity and natural dialogue of his stories, as seen and heard from a child’s point of view.”
– 2006 Governor General’s Literary Awards Jury
“As indelibly as Mordecai Richler staked a claim to the Jewish Montreal of Mile End, Tremblay’s novels, plays, and autobiographical writings have made working-class French Montreal an archetypal literary setting … Tremblay’s knack for recalling and accessing his boyhood self is uncanny. Assorted Candies is short but sweet.”
– Montreal Review of Books