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.
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)
Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Most recently she won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Forests, her translation of the play by Wajdi Mouawad.
“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
“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.”
“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
“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