It’s a long way from a basement apartment in a Montreal suburb to a new life on a fictional planet, but that’s the destination our unnamed narrator has set his sights on, bringing readers with him on an off-beat and often hilarious journey.

Along the way, he writes poems, buys groceries at the dollar store, and earns minimum wage at a dead-end supermarket job. In between treatments for his cystic fibrosis and the constant drip-drip-drip of disappointment, he dreams of a new life on Tatouine, where he’ll play Super Mario Bros and make sand angels all day. But in the meantime, he’ll have to make do with daydreams of a better life.


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Off-beat dreams of a better life on an imaginary planet

Longlisted, Canada Reads 2021

One eRead/Un Livrel Canada 2023

Winner, Prix littéraire des collégiens

Written by Jean-Christophe Réhel
Translated by Katherine Hastings & Peter McCambridge
240 pages • 978-1-77186-228-8 • 8.5″ x 5.5″
Publication Date: September 30, 2020

“I should come up with the ideal planet, just for me. I’d call it Tatouine, almost the same as the real one, but just different enough. This planet really is my soul mate. It could be my totem. My star sign. I don’t want to be a Taurus any longer; I want to be a Tatouine.”


one of my favorite Canadian books of all time” (Neil Smith, author)

A joy to read!” (Shelagh Rogers, CBC’s The Next Chapter)

“I’m still in shock. It’s just incredible. EVERY line in this first novel deserves to be underlined. It’s a book to scribble hearts and stars all overOne thousand stars for this author.” (Claudia Larochelle, arts columnist)

“a wonderful combination of entertaining and heartbreaking” (Rebecca Hussey, Book Riot)

“the internal dialogue of this book, with its balanced mix of humour, honesty, and heart is the perfect fit to rescue you from any socially-distanced funk” (Leyla Top, All Lit Up)

“Jean-Christophe Réhel’s Tatouine is every bit as remarkable as QC Fiction’s earlier offerings […] wit and resignation dance cheek-to-cheek.” (Marcie McCauley, Buried in Print)

“a novel of inventive, self-deprecating humour” (Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail)

“Réhel gives the reader a front-row seat to a baroque and often hilarious interiority – one that highlights the complexity and tragedy of the human condition, while playfully revealing the capacity of the human mind for turning the struggles of existence, large and small, into a source of amusement. […] In addition to the often-dark humour, Réhel has a poet’s eye for rhythm, repetition, and stark imagery that thankfully isn’t lost in the exceptional translation by Katherine Hastings and Peter McCambridge.” (Dean Garlick, Montreal Review of Books)

“I’m completely smitten with the narrator of Tatouine, thanks to his deadpan humour, dreamy melancholy, vivid imagination, and a heart as big as the hole in Percé Rock. As heroes go, the guy rivals any Jedi knight.” (Neil Smith, author of Boo)

“I was moved by Tatouine, a down-to-earth poet’s novel that oozes emotion and imagination. Recommended if you’re lonely, sick or tired.” (Guillaume Morissette, author of New Tab)

“certainly one of my favourites of this year.” (Steven Buechler, The Library of Pacific Tranquility)

“the melancholy, mirthful story of a likeable 31-year-old with a poor self-image […] a very worthwhile read” (James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader)

“At the end, we want to say: I am Réhel. I am Anakin. I’m a comedian. I’m Yoda reading a book and crying in the bath.” (Laurie Bédard, Spirale magazine)

I read the whole thing without putting it down once, as though I’d just heard from a friend I’d been worrying about.” (Véronique Côté, Le Devoir)

“A beautiful novel!” (Marie-Louise Arseneault, Plus on est de fous, plus on lit !)

“There’s no shortage of light in this novel.” ★ ★ ★ ★ (Dominic Tardif, Le Devoir)

“Jean-Christophe Réhel is one of my big discoveries this year. […] Uncompromising urban poetry, sometimes violent, sometimes funny, bursting with self-deprecation.” (Christian Bégin, Canadian actor & TV personality)

Photo credit: Hamza Abouelouafaa


Jean-Christophe Réhel’s début novel Ce qu’on respire sur Tatouine won Quebec’s prestigious Prix littéraire des collégiens. It is his only novel to be translated into English so far; he is busy writing a second. Réhel is also the author of five poetry collections. He lives in Montreal.




Originally from Ireland, Peter McCambridge holds a BA in modern languages from Cambridge University, England, and has lived in Quebec City since 2003. He runs Québec Reads and now QC Fiction. His translation of Eric Dupont’s La Fiancée américaine, Songs for the Cold of Heart, was shortlisted for both the 2018 Giller Prize and the 2018 Governor General’s Award for Translation. It has now been published worldwide, outside of Canada, by HarperCollins.


Katherine Hastings

After immigrating to Canada from the U.K., Katherine Hastings spent ten years in Ontario before moving to Montreal, where she completed a degree in modern languages at McGill University. She has worked as a Quebec-based translator and copyeditor since 1995. Her previous literary translations, The Unknown Huntsman and The Electric Baths, were both by Jean-Michel Fortier.



✓ A first novel like no other