2024 FOLD Challenge - July - The FOLD

2024 FOLD Challenge — July

A translated book by an independent Canadian press

By Anita Ragunathan

Translation is an art. This once controversial statement is now generally accepted thanks to the advocacy of translators who fought for their work to be recognized. Canadian translator, poet, and editor Yilin Wang talks about the labour of love that translation requires from researching the author, historical period, and literary form to using that research and artistic sensibility to convey the spirit of the work. Canada has a rich linguistic history, and independent presses play a role in preserving and nurturing the diverse stories that extend from the multitude of languages spoken on this land. It is our hope that the selection of four novels below will encourage you to explore the wealth of linguistic landscapes Canada has to offer.


Book cover for ROSA'S VERY OWN PERSONAL REVOLUTION by Eric Dupont, translated by Peter McCambridge. Cover features a painting of a dressed up white woman with puffy blonde hair.
Rosa’s Very Own Personal Revolution by Eric Dupont, translated by Peter McCambridge (QC Fiction)
Capricious, big-hearted, joyful: an epic memoir from one of Canada’s most acclaimed Indigenous writers and performers

Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on an island in the sub-Arctic, the eleventh of twelve children in a nomadic, caribou-hunting Cree family. Growing up in a land of ten thousand lakes and islands, Tomson relished being pulled by dogsled beneath a night sky alive with stars, sucking the juices from roasted muskrat tails, and singing country music songs with his impossibly beautiful older sister and her teenaged friends. Surrounded by the love of his family and the vast, mesmerizing landscape they called home, his was in many ways an idyllic far-north childhood. But five of Tomson’s siblings died in childhood, and Balazee and Joe Highway, who loved their surviving children profoundly, wanted their two youngest sons, Tomson and Rene, to enjoy opportunities as big as the world. And so when Tomson was six, he was flown south by float plane to attend a residential school. A year later Rene joined him to begin the rest of their education. In 1990 Rene Highway, a world-renowned dancer, died of an AIDS-related illness.
Permanent Astonishment is Tomson’s extravagant embrace of his younger brother’s final words: “Don’t mourn me, be joyful.” His memoir offers insights, both hilarious and profound, into the Cree experience of culture, conquest, and survival.
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Book cover for SANAAQ by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, translated by Peter Frost. Cover features a picture of two lit up tents in darkness illuminated by a bright moon.
Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, translated by Peter Frost (University of Manitoba Press) — Available on Audible

Sanaaq is an intimate story of an Inuit family negotiating the changes brought into their community by the coming of the qallunaat, the white people, in the mid-nineteenth century.

Composed in 48 episodes, it recounts the daily life of Sanaaq, a strong and outspoken young widow, her daughter Qumaq, and their small semi-nomadic community in northern Quebec. Here they live their lives hunting seal, repairing their kayak, and gathering mussels under blue sea ice before the tide comes in. These are ordinary extraordinary lives: marriages are made and unmade, children are born and named, violence appears in the form of a fearful husband or a hungry polar bear. Here the spirit world is alive and relations with non-humans are never taken lightly. And under it all, the growing intrusion of the qallunaat and the battle for souls between the Catholic and Anglican missionaries threatens to forever change the way of life of Sanaaq and her young family.

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Book cover for Sadie X by Clara Dupuis-Morency, translated by Aimee Wall. Cover features a blue, white, and peach background.
Sadie X by Clara Dupuis-Morency, translated by Aimee Wall (Book*hug Press)

Having followed the brilliant virologist Régnier from Montreal to Marseille many years ago, Sadie now works as a researcher in a lab, spending most of her time among microscopic creatures who teach her about life as a parasite. By day, she pushes the limits of her understanding alongside Régnier, who taught her that to study viruses, she must think infectiously, allow herself to be contaminated by dangerous ideas. By night, Sadie loses herself in bars, music, drugs, sensuality. Until she gets a call from the past that lures her back across the Atlantic.

When her estranged father tells her that a bizarre virus has been found in his hospital, Sadie returns to Montreal and her family, and all the unexpected changes time has wrought, to solve this new puzzle. Soon she realizes that the person she thought she was—someone who can leave everything behind—no longer exists. What is left for her instead is sinking into the unknown to find out what happens when ideas come to life.

This is a deeply inventive and singular novel about the power of metamorphosis and symbiosis. Combining the cerebral and the sensual, Sadie X explores humanity’s relationship to the rest of the world, and the role of rationale—and its limits in our multilayered, regenerative existences.

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Book cover for the WAR YOU DON'T HATE by Blaise Ndala, translated by Peter McCambridge. Cover features a green, white, yellow, blue, and red background with red ants walking across it.
The War You Don’t Hate by Blaise Ndala, translated by Dimitri Nasrallah (Vehicule Press)

In Blaise Ndala’s magnificent second novel, originally published as Sans Capote Ni Kalachnikov in 2017, the paths of a Canadian documentary filmmaker and two former rebel soldiers from the Congo collide in this searing revenge tale about those who profit from the misery of others.

Los Angeles, 2002. Véronique Quesnel accepts the Best Documentary Oscar for “Sona: Rape and Terror in the Heart of Darkness”, basking in the praise of her privileged audience. She has drawn attention to “the center of gravity that is Black tragedy”, which attracted her away from her life in Montreal, and to the harrowing story of Sona, a young woman who escaped sex slavery. But this lauded film has also shone a dangerous spotlight on Véronique herself. In the Great Lakes region of Africa, Master Corporal Red Ant and his cousin Baby Che are stalking the remnants of the Second Congo War – the deadliest conflict since World War II. In search of truth and vengeance, their obsession now has a name.

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