Imagine a 16th-century society belle turned Robinson Crusoe, a female Don Quixote with an Inuit Sancho Panza, and you'll have an inkling of what's in store in Douglas Glover's outrageously Rabelaisian new novel — his first in ten years. Elle is a lusty, subversive riff on the discovery of the New World, the moment of first contact. Based on a true story, Elle chronicles the ordeals and adventures of a young French woman marooned on the desolate Isle of Demons during Jacques Cartier's ill-fated third and last attempt to colonize Canada. Of course, the plot is only the beginning. The bare outline is a true story: the Sieur de Roberval did abandon his unruly young niece, her lover, and her nurse on the Isle of Demons; her companions and her newborn baby did die; and she was indeed rescued and taken home to France. Beyond that, Glover's Rabelaisian imagination takes over. What with real bears, spirit bears, and perhaps hallucinated bears, with mystified and mystifying Natives, with the residue of a somewhat lurid religious faith, and with a world of self-preserving belligerence, the voluble heroine of Elle does more than survive. Elle brilliantly reinvents the beginnings of this country's history: what Canada meant to the early European adventurers, what these Europeans meant to Canada's original inhabitants, and the terrible failure of the two worlds to recognize each other as human. In a carnal whirlwind of myth and story, of death, lust and love, of beauty and hilarity, Glover brings the past violently and unexpectedly into the present. In Elle, Glover's well-known scatological realism, exuberant violence, and dark, unsettling humour give history a thoroughly modern chill.
About the author
William Kennedy, the author of Ironweed, has called Douglas Glover "a very astute literary mind and an excEllent writer . . . a writer of substance," and Philip Marchand has called him "one of the most important Canadian writers of his generation." Even though he is always working outside the box, his books have gained acclaim from the most attentive critics. A Guide to Animal Behaviour was a finalist for the Governor General's Award; H.J. Kirchoff selected The Life and Times of Captain N. as a Globe and Mail top-ten paperback of 2001; and 16 Categories of Desire was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Award for Fiction. Douglas Glover is a Canadian itinerant. He grew up on the family tobacco farm in southwestern Ontario, studied philosophy at York University and the University of Edinburgh, then worked on a series of daily newspapers in New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan before earning his MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1982. He has written story collections, novels and a book of essays. Glover's fiction has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and French, and his stories have been frequently anthologized, notably in The Best American Short Stories, Best Canadian Stories, The Journey Prize Anthology, The Macmillan Anthology and The New Oxford Book of Canadian Stories. Since he washed up in the upstate New York hinterlands in the early 90s, Glover has taught at Skidmore College, Colgate University, the State University of New York at Albany, and Vermont College. For two years he produced and hosted The Book Show, a weekly radio literary interview program that originated at WAMC in Albany and was syndicated on various public radio stations and around the world on Voice of America and the Armed Forces Network. He has two sons, Jacob and Jonah, who, he says, will no doubt turn out better than he did.
- Short-listed, Commonweath Writer's Prize
- Short-listed, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
- Winner, Governor General's Award
"Lascivious, bizarre, entertaining . . . Glover has a wonderful facility for imagery, language, farce, and the grotesque." — Quill & Quire
"A historical novel with a postmodern heart . . . Elle occupies a frozen nether world between fantasy and reality." — Winnipeg Free Press
"A wickedly smart narrative and a post-modern, wise-cracking approach to history." — Calgary Herald
"A boisterously bawdy re-dreaming of the birth of the nation." — Kitchener-Waterloo Record
"[Elle is] a maginificent hail Mary of pure imagination . . . a ribald, raunchy wit with a talent for searing self-investigation . . . Glover's prose throughout, while being consistent in voice, is also a rich blend of elegance and punch, raw affect and slippery allusion." — Globe and Mail
"Knotty, intelligent, often raucously funny." — Macleans
"A packed read, delivering imagery, history, humour, and wonderfully creative writing." — Edmonton Journal
"Douglas Glover imagines our history as no one else can . . . Equal to Solomon Gursky in its contribution to Canadian mythography." — Toronto Star