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Fiction Literary

Querelle of Roberval

by (author) Kevin Lambert

translated by Donald Winkler

Initial publish date
Aug 2022
Literary, 21st Century, Gay, Own Voices, Small Town & Rural
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2022
    List Price

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Homage to Jean Genet’s antihero and a brilliant reimagining of the ancient form of tragedy, Querelle of Roberval, winner of the Marquis de Sade Prize, is a wildly imaginative story of justice, passion, and murderous revenge.

As a millworkers’ strike in the northern lumber town of Roberval drags on, tensions start to escalate between the workers—but when a lockout renews their solidarity, they rally around the mysterious and magnetic influence of Querelle, a dashing newcomer from Montreal. Strapping and unabashed, likeable but callow, by day he walks the picket lines and at night moves like a mythic Adonis through the ranks of young men who flock to his apartment for sex. As the dispute hardens and both sides refuse to yield, sand stalls the gears of the economic machine and the tinderbox of class struggle and entitlement ignites in a firestorm of passions carnal and violent. Trenchant social drama, a tribute to Jean Genet’s antihero, and a brilliant reimagining of the ancient form of tragedy, Querelle of Roberval, winner of France’s Marquis de Sade Prize, is a wildly imaginative story of justice, passion, and murderous revenge.

About the authors

Kevin Lambert's profile page

Donald Winkler was born in Winnipeg, graduated from the University of Manitoba, and did graduate study at the Yale School of Drama. From 1967 to 1995 he was a film director and writer at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, and since the 1980s, a translator of Quebec literature. In 1994, 2011, and 2013 he won the Governor General Award for French to English translation, and has been a finalist for the prize on three other occasions. His translation of Samuel Archibald's short story collection, "Arvida," was a finalist for the 2015 Giller Prize. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Donald Winkler's profile page


  • Nominated, Prix Médicis
  • Winner, Prix Ringuet
  • Winner, Marquis de Sade Prize

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Querelle of Roberval

“The most savage literary protest of this season … This 27-year-old author has already established his voice through an unusual gesture: driving the sexual question into the hide of the social movement … His outrageous prose is justified by the novel's project: exploiting the liberating potential of the body laid bare, the subversive power of raw pleasure. Here sex becomes a tool of sabotage, it dynamites the orderly linguistic formulas of ideology, love or militant slogans.”—Le Monde (Paris)

“At the age of 27, this young Canadian author has published a raw, militant ‘syndical fiction.’ A powerful novel in which sociopolitical criticism interrogates desire and questions of gender identity. A multitude of characters gravitate towards the fascinating Querelle, the archetype of the beautiful gay male; all the young men of the region parade through his bed, utterly bewitched.”—Télérama (France)

“Lambert explodes stereotypes and taboos. I'm always partial to a writer who takes risks, who dares to find beauty in the blemishes of our souls and our desires.”—Heather O'Neill, Chatelaine

“Querelle of Roberval represents the mature confirmation of Lambert's style, a highly poetic oral language … Lambert's writing is so alive that one reads the novel in a single sitting with the impression of having been run over by a logging truck and a horde of libidinous young men at the same time. You come out over it feeling bruised and thrilled.”—La Presse (Montreal)

“It's a pleasure to read this novel for its language and the energy it unleashes.”—Le Devoir (Montreal)

“A simple review can hardly do justice to the richness and depth of this bountiful, powerful and wildly excessive novel, with its feverish, compulsive, but always controlled, writing. “—Lettres Québécoises

“A bitter, yet empathetic, social novel.”—University of Toronto Quarterly

Other titles by Kevin Lambert

Other titles by Donald Winkler