Eric Dupont’s books are among the first in a wave of new Quebec literature: La Presse has called him “one of the province’s most daring and original writers,” while Voir maintains that just two books were enough to make his work “essential reading for anyone interested in new Quebec literature.”
Now available for the first time in English translation as Life in the Court of Matane, Bestiaire was one of the three finalists for the 2009 Prix Littéraire France-Québec, a literary prize awarded to French readers’ favourite Quebec novels, and was one of La Presse’s top five Quebec novels of 2008.
“If the Americans have John Irving and the Colombians Gabriel García Márquez, we have Eric Dupont. And he’s every bit as good as them.” (Voir)
Nadia Comaneci’s gold-medal performance at the Olympic
Games in Montreal is the starting point for a whole new
generation. Eric Dupont watches the performance on TV,
mesmerized. The son of a police officer (Henry VIII) and a
professional cook—as he likes to remind us—he grows up in the
depths of the Quebec countryside with a new address for almost
every birthday and little but memories of his mother to hang on
to. His parents have divorced, and the novel’s narrator relates
his childhood, comparing it to a family gymnastics performance
worthy of Nadia herself.
Life in the court of Matane is unforgiving, and we explore
different facets of it (dreams of sovereignty, schoolyard bullying,
imagined missions to Russia, poems by Baudelaire), each based
around an encounter with a different animal, until the narrator
befriends a great horned owl, summons up the courage to let go
of the upper bar forever, and makes his glorious escape.