This month, we’re celebrating the significance and vibrancy of the worldwide UNESCO City of Literature Network by bringing a fellow city into focus. We were thrilled to pair up with Québec City, the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, which became a City of Literature in October 2017.
In order to get the best taste of Québec and its literary heritage, Quebec UNESCO City of Literature has provided a hand-pick of their top five books in which to discover their beautiful city. In return, we have selected five world-famous writers who have called Norwich home.
Québec City, with its beautiful landscapes and European feeling set in an American territory, has inspired lots of authors throughout time. Samuel de Champlain and other explorers wrote about it as early as the 16th century, in what is known as Écrits de la Nouvelle-France. The first French-Canadian novel, L’influence d’un livre by Philippe Aubert de Gaspé fils (1837) has also been published in the capital.
Today, Quebec City is the home of more than 200 writers who are active in a wide range of genres and styles, making of it the first French-speaking Cities of Literature.
Want to know more? Here are suggestions to discover Québec City by its literature and authors.
‘The Song of Roland’ by Michel Rabagliati (translation Helge Dascher)
This internationally acclaimed comic book features Paul, the ‘Tintin of Quebec’. In this beautiful story, recently adapted for the screen, the very popular character visits his father-in-law Roland, who is struggling with cancer in Quebec City.
‘Bury your Dead’ by Louise Penny
In this New York Times bestseller, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache investigates a murder committed in the English library of Quebec City, an important historical site. According to Toronto Globe and Mail, ‘Louise Penny’s portrait of Quebec City is as lovingly detailed and evocative as anything she has written, and her control over this intricate blending of history and mystery is absolute.’
‘Volkswagen Blues’ by Jacques Poulin (translation Sheila Fishman)
A classic road novel initially published in 1984, Volkswagen Blues tells the story of a writer who travels across America in quest of his brother. Unanimously acclaimed, this book by a wonderfully sensitive author is now a must of Quebec’s literature.
‘Mad Shadows’ by Marie-Claire Blais (translation Merloyd Lawrence)
Marie-Claire Blais’ first book is overwhelming and exquisitely written. This story of a dysfunctional family exploded on the literary scene when it was published in 1959. The dark universe of one of Quebec’s finest authors continues to conquer the heart of generations of readers around the world.
Granta’s Canadian special issue
To discover a wide range of Canada and Quebec’s contemporary literature, consult the special issue Granta published for the 150th anniversary of Canada. The issue contains texts from two Quebec City’s authors: Dominique Fortier, winner of the most prestigious French-Canadian literary award (General Governor’s Award), and Naomi Fontaine, a young aboriginal writer.