Littérature: Made in Quebec

Photo by Denise Pelletier.
Photo by Denise Pelletier.

We are a country with two official languages, but how often in Quebec do we make that a source of disconcertion? Isn’t it time we embraced both languages and celebrated what their literary traditions have to offer?

Reading: un acte d’amour/Lire: An Act of Love, is a bilingual literary event, that’s designed to do just that. As part of the 18th annual Festival international de la literature, the event will take place Sept. 26 at La Sala Rossa.

Organized by the Quebec Writers’ Federation, the event began several years ago as an English-only event with a Canada Reads type of format. When the QWF decided to run it for another year, they omitted the competitive style of the event and invited both French and English language Quebec authors; this way, “everyone is a winner,” said Lori Schubert, QWF’s executive director. The format of the event has been tweaked over the years, with the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains quebecois joining forces to offer a bilingual literary experience.

The event features two award-winning Quebec authors: francophone Nicolas Dickner and anglophone Neil Smith. Each writer is presenting a book by a fellow Quebec author, one in English and one in French. The books presented are available in an English or French translation. The event sheds light on the importance of Quebec literature, whether it is in English or French and encourages readers to explore Quebec’s vast and vibrant literary scene.

The translation of a literary work relies a lot on the accuracy and the preservation of the beauty and originality of the words chosen by the author. Translation is one of the main focuses of the event and the translators of the novels are invited to be part of the panel and participate in the discussions. The event aims to show the impact translation can have on a literary work and how it can change the reader’s perception and reaction to the novel.

Nicolas Dickner, author of Nikolski, will present the novel Du bon usage des étoiles by Dominique Fortier. Neil Smith, author of Bang, Crunch, will present the novel Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill.  Writer and translator David Homel, who is the president of the QWF, will be hosting the event.

What makes this event so unique is that it encourages audience participation. Discussions will take place after the presentation of the novels with the presenters and the audience exchanging opinions and questions regarding the works. Audience members are also encouraged to bring a list of books written in Quebec that they would like to see translated in English or French. The list of these books will be sent to various literary associations in hopes that they will be translated. If there’s a book out there that you want translated, this is the perfect time to have your voice heard.

The novels being presented, as well the novels written by the authors and the translators, will be on sale at the event.

Admission for students is $5 and $10 for the general public.


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