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Posted May 30, 2012
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–Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation--2007
The Jury said:
Nigel Spencer conveys the compelling spirit of Marie-Claire Blais’ dizzying prose in this fictional microcosm of our disjointed times. His translation carries the reader along through the claustrophobic whirl and conflicting relations of a phantasmagoric world.
Nigel Spencer has performed a tour de force in Augustino and the Choir of Destruction, his translation of the third volume in Marie-Claire Blais’ quartet. The poignant and intricate stories of the novel’s astonishing constellation of characters are sensitively conveyed through his moving and innovative use of language. Spencer has risen to the extraordinary challenge of rendering Blais’ uninterrupted stream of hallucinatory prose into an accomplished and lyrical translation.
(Four consecutive Governor General’s Literary Awards for the first four novels in this cycle, in either originals or translations)
The acceleration of our lives…deftly translated by Nigel Spencer. These people do exist. On the page, however, they take on surreal dimensions, the fragments of their lives woven together through Blais’ dark, magical prose.
–Pat Donnelly, The Montreal Gazette: 28/7/2007
The English version of Augustino comes courtesy of Nigel Spencer, winner of the Governor General’s Award for his translation of the second instalment in this trilogy, Thunder and Light…Spencer’s translation is true to the original, with all the characters–all of humanity–as guests at the same party, united by thought, history, and art.
–Anne Chubodiak, Montreal Review of Books
.…Consolation comes and goes without lasting, but beauty lasts, and friendship, and love. Always in Marie-Claire Blais’ work there comes the certainty that we are all connected, capable of everything, the deepest love, the worst crimes, the sublimest creations, great daring and self-sacrifice, simple joy. I know of no other novelist writing today who reflects so succinctly and with such real charity, what it’s like to be human in this perturbed century. Nobody has orchestrated the passions and perplexities, the shared themes of life in quite such a way, one voice giving way to another, and another, the song continually passed on, taken up in another key. The writer herself is never glimpsed, but in her control and finesse she has all the skills of a great conductor. Readers who may be alarmed by being asked to read pages of prose with no pauses and little punctuation might be encouraged by reading it aloud, a process by which both the structure and the intense musicality of the writing may be fully enjoyed. This English translation from the original French, by Nigel Spencer, gracefully tracks the rhythms of Blais’ language, no small feat given the very different structures of French and English and the swell of Blais’ prose that comes and goes like the tides of the ocean itself.
–Rosalind Brackenbury, Solares Hill (Key West, Fla.)
Marie-Claire Blais, one of Quebec's most prolific and celebrated writers, delivers the third volume in a prize-winning trilogy. Augustino and the Choir of Destruction is a dense and daring apocalyptic literary vision. Set on an island somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, this [third] volume is as much an examination of moral philosophy and the consequence of inaction as it is a reflexive inquiry into the limits of language.
...Augustino and the Choir of Destruction sings.
--Sarah Steinberg, Quill & Quire
Blais' writing is...challenging but highly skilled stream of consciousness, the complexity of which only a seasoned writer could pull off...
The stream of consciousness travels back and forth among a collection of characters, fictional and historical...it will circle back around to understanding. This repetition strengthens the stories.
--Carla Lucchetta, The Globe and Mail: 28/7/2007