Émile Claudel is no ordinary child. Only months after his birth, following the liberation of France in 1945, he can already chatter away in several languages, much to his mother’s frustration. Nicknamed the Little Fox for his appearance, Émile is born into a loveless home, where patience is in short supply. Abandoned by his family, he struggles to find a place in society. This deftly written coming-of-age novel follows Émile on his journey toward adulthood, as his country moves away from austere conservatism and embraces the counterculture of the 1960s.

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Bold, insightful, and distinctive
Painstaking and painful
Brilliantly evocative

A World Literature Today Notable Translation for 2019

Finalist, Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year Awards (Literary Fiction)

Finalist, Ottawa Book Award for French fiction

Written by Éric Mathieu
Translated by Peter McCambridge
384 pages • 978-1-77186-196-0 • 8.5″ x 5.5″
Publication Date: September 1, 2019

“On the back of an old, yellowed receipt, I drew up a list of the men in the village who might have been my father. Beside each name, I gave them a score from one to ten. Ten points meant they were the man on whom all hopes were pinned, the man who stood the best chance of being my father. One day my mother found the list under my mattress and threw it away.”


“Some readers will be reminded of Ágota Kristóf or Richard Morgiève’s tales of precocious, scorned children; others may recall the picaresque figures of Robertson Davies. Yet just as Émile is his own boy, Mathieu is very much his own writer. He conducts his novel with intelligence, brio, and a very estimable narrative agility, giving us brief and pungent glimpses (there are 199 chapters in these 379 pages) into a lonely young life spent swimming against the current of convention, where staying afloat is the only thing that really matters.” (Warren Motte, World Literature Today)

“McCambridge’s translation is gorgeous and commands attention. Mathieu’s quick pace and small chapters turn the bildungsroman on its head…” (Broken Pencil magazine)

“The sparse prose and skilled translation by Peter McCambridge combine to deliver a narrative that absorbs the reader as it forges ahead with its steady, hypnotic rhythm, slowing every so often to deliver a heartbreaking blow. Mathieu succeeds in his conception of a real boy, one who feels things deeply, and whose acute expressions cut straight to the bone.” (Anya Leibovitch, Montreal Review of Books)

“a cleverly written story which cunningly commands the reader’s attention” (James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader)

a coming-of-age story unlike any other […] Émile’s young, vibrant, naive, afflicted, and hopeful voice kept me turning the pages.” (Naomi MacKinnon, Consumed by Ink)

“An intriguing, masterful novel, [The Little Fox of Mayerville] shines.” (Les Libraires)

“A skillful blend of emotion, hijinks, and adventure, all delivered in lively, imaginative language.” (Marie-Michèle Giguère, Lettres québécoises)

“The polished prose keeps readers on their toes right to the end.” (Mario Cloutier, La Presse)

Credit: Céline Chapdelaine


Éric Mathieu is a professor at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Ottawa and a writer. He studied at University College London and has lived in Canada’s capital since 2004. His first novel, Les suicidés d’Eau-Claire (La Mèche), was a finalist for the prestigious Trillium Book Award in 2017. Le Goupil, published in French by La Mèche and now translated as The Little Fox of Mayerville, is his second novel and the first to appear in English.



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 will be published worldwide, outside of Canada, by HarperCollins in 2020.



✓ Another new voice from QC Fiction, brought into English for the first time by an award-winning translator