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Fiction Literary


by (author) Larry Tremblay

translated by Sheila Fischman

Initial publish date
Apr 2020
Literary, Psychological, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2020
    List Price

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Bestselling author Alice Livingstone is dead. She leaves her philosopher husband, Antoine, to deal with her legacy, towards which he feels increasingly estranged. Confronted with his wife’s much-reported disappearance, Antoine revisits their past relationship: open and liberal on the outside, but constrained and deviant on the inside. The news of the day (the death of JFK Jr., the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk), which plays on the television running in the novel’s background, gradually becomes significant in the lives of the protagonists – as revealed in Alice’s mysterious, posthumous last novel, A Pure Heart. Bit by bit, as we move closer to the novel’s centre, its narrators lose reliability; their discourses and pretenses become more and more confused, fragmentary, and misleading. Good intentions become corrupted and appearances prove to be deceiving. Impurity’s conclusion is as gripping as it
is asphyxiating.


After his masterpieces The Orange Grove and The Obese Christ, Larry Tremblay, one of Québec’s most accomplished novelists and playwrights of the last two decades, offers his readers a riveting mystery, a self-reflective enigma whose decoding places on trial the
literary form itself.



A playful and macabre narrative tour de force, Impurity weaves a fascinating web of interlocking narratives in an epistolary puzzle connecting forms with voices, and voices with revelations.

About the authors

Larry Tremblay
Larry Tremblay is a writer, director, actor and specialist in Kathakali, an elaborate dance theatre form which he has studied on numerous trips to India. He has published twenty books as a playwright, poet, novelist and essayist.

The recent publication of Talking Bodies (Talonbooks, 2001) brought together four of his plays in English translation. He played the role of Léo in his own play Le Déclic du destin in many festivals in Brazil and Argentina. The play received a new production in Paris in 1999 and was highly successful at the Festival Off in Avignon in 2000.

Thanks to an uninterrupted succession of new plays (Anatomy Lesson, Ogre, The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi, Les Mains bleues and Téléroman, among others) in production during the 1990s, Tremblay’s work continues to achieve international recognition.

His plays, premiered for the most part in Montreal, have also been produced, often in translation, in Italy, France, Belgium, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Argentina and Scotland. In 2001, Le Ventriloque had three separate productions in Paris, Brussels and Montreal; it has since been translated into numerous languages.

More recently, Tremblay collaborated with Welsh Canadian composer John Metcalf on a new opera, A Chair in Love, a concert version of which premiered in Montreal in April 2005. One of Quebec’s most versatile writers, Tremblay currently teaches acting at l’École supérieure de théâtre de l’Université du Québec à Montréal.

Keith Turnbull
Keith Turnbull served as the artistic director of Theatre Arts programs at the Banff Centre for the Arts from 1993 to 1999 and was also the co-director of the Banff playRites Colony and director of the Contemporary Opera and Song Training Program from 1997 to 2000. His career as a director, producer, designer and dramaturge is highlighted by a commitment to contemporary and new work in both theatre and opera.

In addition, Turnbull has a particular interest in the pedagogy, performance practice and interpretation of the works of Shakespeare and of other language-based texts. He has directed more than seventy plays at various theatres throughout the world.

Turnbull also founded a First Nations theatre company from which emerged many of Canada’s most noted Native performers. He was the founding co-artistic director of the Toronto Theatre Festival and the president of the Toronto Theatre Alliance, as well as a board member of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. He has taught at the University of Manitoba, the National Theatre School, the University of Calgary and the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Larry Tremblay's profile page

Sheila Fischman's profile page

Other titles by Larry Tremblay

Other titles by Sheila Fischman