The lives of three families intersect in the hallways of an apartment block in a Montreal neighborhood.
Mélissa, Roxane, and Kevin have never had it easy. As their parents face their own struggles – with addiction, unemployment, and abuse – they must learn to fend for themselves. Though their lives converge at school, on the street, at the corner store, or when they can hear each other through their apartments’ thin walls, they each feel deeply alone. Neighbourhood Watch tells their coming-of-age stories with a cinematic ease, moving between despair and the unalterable hope of childhood.
With her characteristic poetic flair and generosity, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, author of the acclaimed Suzanne, has painted, in brief strokes, an unforgettable and moving portrait of a fictional apartment block in Montreal.
This translation of her 2010 debut novel is presented with an afterword interview with a woman who, as a child, was the inspiration behind the character of Roxane.
‘This is prose to lose yourself in. Never complicated, it’s gentle like a love song, comforting and enveloping like a black-and-white film, full of tones and textures. These sentences can destroy us. Not for their simplicity, but for the powerful beauty within the simplicity.’ —Peter McCambridge, ‘Best Translated Book Award: Why This Book Should Win,’ on Suzanne
Anais Barbeau-Lavalette is a Montreal-based author and director. She was named 2012 Artist for Peace by the social justice organization Les Artistes Pour la Paix. In 2016, her novel La femme qui fuit ( Suzanne ) won the Prix des libraires du Quebec.
Rhonda Mullins is a writer and translator. She received the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for Twenty-One Cardinals, her translation of Jocelyne Saucier's Les heritiers de la mine . And the Birds Rained Down, her translation of Jocelyne Saucier's Il pleuvait des oiseaux, was a CBC Canada Reads Selection. It was also shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award, as were her translations of Elise Turcotte's Guyana and Herve Fischer's The Decline of the Hollywood Empire . Rhonda currently lives in Montreal.
“You’ll recognize in this novel scenes from The Ring. The idea for this book was born long before.… After the film, she wanted to pursue their stories, without the heaviness of film.… The narration borrows the point of view and the crude and sometimes awkward language of the characters.” —La Presse
“Barbeau-Lavalette takes on a naive and charming tone without a trace of miserabilism.” —Voir Montréal