Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction General

Kuessipan

by (author) Naomi Fontaine

translated by David Homel

Publisher
Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2013
Category
General
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781551525174
    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
    $14.95

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Description

A fictionalized, meditative chronicle of life among the Innu in rural northeastern Quebec.

Kuessipan ("to you" in the Innu language) is an extraordinary, meditative novel about life among the Native Innu people in the wilds of northeastern Quebec. Naomi Fontaine, herself an Innu, wrote this novel (in French) at the age of twenty-three; with grace and perfect pitch, she depicts a community of nomadic hunters and fishers, and of hard-working mothers and their children, enduring a harsh, sometimes cruel reality with quiet dignity. Pervading the book is a palpable sense of place and time played out as a series of moments: elders who watch their kin grow up before their eyes; couples engaged in domestic crises, and young people undone by alcohol; caribou-skin drums that bring residents to their feet; and lives spent along a bay that reflects the beauty of the earth and the universal truth that life is a fleeting puzzle whose pieces must be put together before it can be fully lived.

With poetic restraint and a documentary-like eye, Kuessipan is a remarkable and intimate portrait of a world that reads like no other.

Kuessipan is currently being developed into a French-language motion picture by director Myriam Verreault for Max Films Inc.

If you keep on going, there will be sand beneath your feet. You'll taste the salty air. The sun will start to go down. The sky will put on a show. Let the waves give rhythm to your senses. You will be comforted. Just walk through those spruce trees. Then you'll see the bay, the beach with its soft sand, the aluminum smelter, the islands, the river as wide as the sea. The ocean, where you came from.

About the authors

NAOMI FONTAINE is a member of the Innu Nation of Uashat and a graduate of the Université de Laval. Her first novel, Kuessipan, was made into a feature film that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019. Manikanetish was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards and ICI-Radio Canada’s “Combat des livres.”

 

Naomi Fontaine's profile page

David Homel has translated over 30 books, many by Quebec authors. He won the Governor General's Literary Award in translation in 1995 for Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? by Dany Laferrière; his translation of Laferrière's How to Make Love to a Negro was nominated in 1988; and he won the prize in 2001 with fellow translator Fred A. Reed for Fairy Wing. His novels, which include Sonya & Jack, Electrical Storms, and The Speaking Cure have been published in several languages. Homel lives in Montreal, Quebec.

David Homel's profile page

Editorial Reviews

This heart-and-soul chronicle by a young writer describes that miraculous moment when a woman crosses the line and leaves her isolation behind. On one side is life as it has been; on the other side, a world of words she can use to tell that story ... [Naomi Fontaine] writes in the same tradition as Native writers such as Tomson Highway, Thomas King, and even Louise Erdrich. -Le Devoir

Fontaine's chosen style presents us with a tableau of people, while at the same time getting behind that and delivering intimacy and empathy on an individual level. Her work expresses the idea of hope and rebirth in a culture that continues to struggle for dignity and identity. -Broken Pencil

A fascinating, complex portrait of life on Innu First Nation's reserve in Canada. -Bustle

With this debut book, Naomi Fontaine, a member of the Innu First Nation, has delicately crafted a series of miniature masterpieces - of moments, places and emotions ... What she does so admirably, without pathos or angst, is reveal a community of souls - mothers, grandfathers, errant boyfriends, pregnant girls - trapped in a way of life out of sync with their past and on a crash course with their present. -The Rover

Fontaine's layered images of Innu life are full of human depth, including also struggle, pride, joy, and love. It is not a romanticized view, but contextualized, with an intelligence that keeps the story engaging ... In the end, it is a story of strength and of hope, which are intimately entwined. -Montreal Review of Books

Fontaine's chosen style presents us with a tableau of people, while at the same time getting behind that and delivering intimacy and empathy on an individual level. Her work expresses the idea of hope and rebirth in a culture that continues to struggle for dignity and identity. -Broken Pencil

The writing is both incredibly simple and effectively poetic, illustrating James Wood's observation above that, in fiction, brevity takes us closer to poetry ... Kuessipan is a beautiful book. Beautiful language, beautifully translated. -Ambos

Other titles by Naomi Fontaine

Other titles by David Homel

Related lists