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Fiction Literary


by (author) Elise Turcotte

translated by Rhonda Mullins

Coach House Books
Initial publish date
May 2014
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2014
    List Price

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Nominated for the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Translation

All sorts of things can happen, no matter what road you take, and I never forget that. Death in particular can never be forgotten. Since Rudi’s death, I have tried to anticipate and dodge obstacles like an Olympic skier. My agile imagination glides between the little red flags with ease. Philippe’s imagination is both infnite and inflexible. It’s a dangerous combination. He stays planted on the ground while looking down over reality. Between us, we do a good job of imagining everything that could happen.

I figured I shouldn’t tell him the news: your hairdresser hanged herself in her salon.

Ana and her son, Philippe, are grieving the loss of Philippe’s father when Philippe’s hairstylist, Kimi, dies in an apparent suicide. Driven by a force she doesn’tunderstand, Ana starts digging into Kimi’s past in Guyana in 1978, which leads to nested tales of north and south, past and present, and to the Jonestown Massacre. A stunning translation of a masterpiece by one of Quebec’s most important novelists.

About the authors

Élise Turcotte is a novelist and award-winning poet who has received the Prix Emile Nelligan for La terre est ici in 1989 and for La voix de Carla in 1987. In 1992, she won the Prix Louis-Hémon for Le bruit des choses vivantes. Her novel The Alien House was shortlisted for the 2004 Governor General's Literary Award for Translation. Élise lives in Montreal, where she has taught at the CEGEP de Vieux-Montréal since 1986.

Elise Turcotte's profile page

Rhonda Mullins is a Montreal-based translator who has translated many books from French into English, including Jocelyne Saucier’s And Miles To Go Before I Sleep, Grégoire Courtois’ The Laws of the Skies, Dominique Fortier’s Paper Houses, and Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s Suzanne. She is a seven-time finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation, winning the award in 2015 for her translation of Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals. Novels she has translated were contenders for CBC Canada Reads in 2015 and 2019 and one was a finalist for the 2018 Best Translated Book Award. Mullins was the inaugural literary translator in residence at Concordia University in 2018. She is a mentor to emerging translators in the Banff International Literary Translation Program.

Rhonda Mullins' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Guyana reads like a poetic mystery novel, from its claustrophobic beginning that then builds to a finale that is frankly so astonishing I don’t dare give anything away.�* — La Presse
"This beautiful book is traversed by a kind of love that curves sentences in such a way that they go right to the heart and from there slowly make their way into our thoughts. Reading Elise Turcotte is not only a pleasure but a way to connect with one of the best writers of a new generation in Quebec." — Nicole Brossard (on The Sound of Living Things)
"Reading Elise Turcotte's The Alien House is a little like overhearing the thoughts of one of Ingmar Bergman's nearly silent film heroines … leaves you feeling like you've touched on something profound yet unexplainable." — Quill & Quire

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