Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Making Mayonnaise

JC Sutcliffe reviews Éric Plamondon's novel Mayonnaise. And what an insightful review it is. Mayonnaise (focusing on American cultural icon Richard Brautigan) is the second novel in the author's '1984' trilogy, following Hungary-Hollywood Express (based on Johnny Weismuller's life). The third (forthcoming) focuses on tech guru Steve Jobs. All three are narrated by the character Gabriel Rivages. All three translated by Dimitri Nasrallah.

Here is an excerpt from the recently-published CNQ 50th anniversary issue!

"Plamondon has a knack for taking an interesting but seemingly unrelated fact, bringing it round to some meaningful aspect of Brautigan (or Rivage's) life, and turning it into a polished narrative jewel."

"While Mayonnaise is emphatically not a realist novel, its grounding in life's minutiae, along with all its random, deeply pleasing connections, ends up feeling like a kind of alternative to realism. These diverse fragments might not emulsify in the manner of mayonnaise, but they do combine into a powerful and intelligent meditation on the meaning of existence."

Esplanade's Track Record

Ian McGillis' article in last Saturday's Montreal Gazette, "Making the scene in 2019: Quebec artists to watch this year," made some very generous comments about our fiction imprint Esplanade Books, and we'd like to share them with you.

In the literary world, you don’t always see the next thing coming. Even if you’re among the select circle given to combing publishers’ catalogues and quarterly magazines, predicting who might rise from the vast pool of hopefuls can feel like a fool’s errand. So it’s nice to have a marker or two to help make it all a little less random. 

Mikella Nicol

Véhicule Press’s Esplanade Fiction imprint, currently under the stewardship of Dimitri Nasrallah, is one such standard-bearer.

As in the old days when you’d buy a record on faith if it bore the Rough Trade or Factory seal, the Esplanade brand has earned readers’ loyalty. Among the alumni are Anita Anand, Guillaume Morissette, Geneviève Pettersen, Josip Novakovich and, indeed, Nasrallah himself. This spring their ranks will be joined by 26-year-old Montrealer Mikella Nicol, who makes her English-language debut with Aphelia, a translation of her second novel, 2017’s Aphélie.

The basic setup — a 20-something graveyard-shift worker at a call centre during a summer heat wave is on the rebound from a volatile relationship — already includes at least four elements rife with dramatic portent. The catalogue description includes words like “brooding,” “millennial” and “ennui,” so as a novel of urban youth, this one sounds both timeless and bang up to date.

Its April publication is part of a bigger and heartening development whereby French-language causes célèbres are being rendered in English in less time than we’d been used to. In this case, that assignment went to fiction writer, poet and Montreal Review of Books editor Lesley Trites, indicative of another trend that sees name writers of both languages translating their fellow writers’ work.

Lesley Trites

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Our 45th Anniversary

Blue Metropolis Literary Festival Celebrates Véhicule Press


More photos by Susan Moss. Thanks to all who participated in this event.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Our 45th Anniversary

Blue Metropolis Literary Festival Celebrates Véhicule Press


Here are some of the photographs from the April 29, 2018 event taken by photographer Susan Moss. The MC was Mark Abley. The presenters were Nyla Matuk, Anita Anand, Guillaume Morissette, Katia Grubisic, Pierre Nepveu and Sherry Simon. Each chose a favourite book or books published over the years by the Press. Pierre Nepveu talked about the value of translation. Near the end, the surprise speaker was Anne Dardick. The celebration was co-ordinated by Derek Webster.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Nyla Matuk and Derek Webster Reading at McGill

On Thursday, April 12 Mordecai Richler Writer-in-Residence Nyla Matuk, author of Stranger and Sumptuary Laws, and Derek Webster, author of Mockingbird, gave a reading of new and selected poems. Following the reading there was a fascinating conversation with the poets led by Professor Eli MacLaren. The event took place in the newly-renovated Colgate Room of McGill's Rare Books and Special Collections in the MacLennan Library.

Eli MacLaren, Nyla Matuk and Derek Webster

Nyla, Derek, Adrian King-Edwards and Rare Books Librarian Chris Lyons

Adrian King-Edwards and Donna Jean-Louis of The Word Bookstore, and Derek Webster

Robyn Sarah and Chris Lyons

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Meet The Bleeds

“For half a century, the Bleeds have ruled with an iron fist. Once hailed as the founders of an independence movement, they’ve long since cemented into corrupt autocrats upheld by the foreign investors who manage their region’s uranium trade.”

Sound familiar? Regrettably we know of too many nations whose leaders, in their quest for riches and power, have betrayed their people. The above quote is from the description of Dimitri Nasrallah’s third novel, The Bleeds, which hits Canadian bookshelves next February. A fresh take on the contemporary thriller, from the author of Niko (nominated for CBC Canada Reads and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award) comes an allegory of power and privilege resurrected from the thwarted ideals of the Arab Spring.

With advance reading copies in hand we are spreading the word. And what a year 2018 is for Dimitri. In addition to The Bleeds, his translation, Mayonnaise, the second volume in Éric Plamondon’s classic “1984 Trilogy" appears this fall. Plus the French language edition of his second novel Niko, a commercial and critical success, has been optioned for a French-language film and is awaiting a high-profile publication in France this March.

Dimitri Nasrallah’s The Bleeds (An Esplanade Book) is a harbinger of many good things that await readers in 2018—our anniversary year.