Shortlisted for the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
Luc Lévesque is a celebrated Quebec novelist and the anointed Voice of a Generation. In his hometown of Montreal, he is revered as much for his novels about the working-class neighbourhood of Saint-Henri as for his separatist views. But this is 2001. The dreams of a new nation are dying, and Luc himself is increasingly dissatisfied with his life.
Hannah is Luc’s wife. She is also the daughter of a man who served as a special prosecutor during the October Crisis. For years, Hannah has worked faithfully as Luc’s English translator. She has also spent her adult life distancing herself from her English-speaking family. But at what cost?
Hugo is their troubled fourteen-year-old son. Living in the shadow of a larger-than-life father, Hugo is struggling with his own identity. In confusion and anger, he commits a reckless act that puts everyone around him on a collision course with the past.
Weaving together three unique voices, My October is a masterful tale of a modern family torn apart by the power of language and the weight of history. Spare and insightful, Claire Holden Rothman’s new novel explores the fascinating and sometimes shocking consequences of words left unsaid.
About the author
Claire Holden Rothman is a Montreal writer. After early training as a lawyer, she taught college literature, and creative writing at McGill University. She has also worked extensively as a translator in her native Montreal, winning the Glassco Prize for her translation of Quebec’s first novel, Le chercheur de trésors/The Alchemist. Rothman’s short fiction has appeared in numerous literary periodicals. She has published two story collections, Salad Days and Black Tulips. The Heart Specialist, her first novel, was longlisted for the 2009 ScotiaBank Giller Prize, is a Canadian bestseller, and was released in Italy, Germany, the UK and French Canada. Claire Holden Rothman lives in Montreal with actor Arthur Holden and their two sons.
“Rothman expertly renders the emotional landscapes of her characters…. Like any good family drama, My October explores the subtle ways that a family’s past bleeds into the present…. Rothman has provided an intimate window into the scars left by that era, unique to that place and time. Good stories take the specific and make it universal. This compelling, finely crafted novel accomplishes that beautifully.” - Winnipeg Free Press
"In diamond prose that never intrudes on this mesmerizing tale of a family attempting to separate, Rothman reveals the dilemmas of Quebec. For her finely-drawn Montrealers, the personal and political are inseparable, relationships inseparable, and two languages insufficient for modern times. Writing with clear-eyed honesty and authority, reframing histories that invoke nationalism and ethnic identity, My October asks that we question stories we think we know. This nuanced and heartwarming work of political fiction deserves to become a classic." - Shauna Singh Baldwin, author of What the Body Remembers and The Selector of Souls
"Claire Holden Rothman offers an interesting perspective on the Anglo-French relations in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Through the Lévesque family, and especially the teenage character of Hugo, we see the way politics become deeply personal in the lives of individuals. My October is an important Canadian story, courageously told and filled with the echoes of centuries of history." - Suzanne Desrochers, bestselling author of Bride of New France
“Rothman … expertly weaves the intimate story of [the Lévesque] family with the political history of Quebec. This novel about power, language and acceptance should resonate with those who have felt torn between languages and cultures, as well as those who have felt like outsiders in their own city or country.” - Publishers Weekly
"Deftly rendering the inner voice of each of her protagonists--Hugo, Hannah, and Luc--she presents a nuanced network of perspectives, challenging the divisive dichotomy that generally characterized Quebec politics.” - Montreal Review of Books
“The thrill of reading My October is akin to finding an old lover’s diary that you really shouldn’t read but—of course!—you do.” - Rover Arts
“We’ve all heard the old Chekhov directive that if a gun appears at a certain point, it has to go off by a certain point. What Holden Rothman does with that is just one of the many ways she subverts expectations in a book whose dramatic ironies and emotional depths deepen with practically every page.” - Montreal Gazette