Crossing the Continent

Crossing the Continent


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Born in Providence, Rhode Island, to a Cree mother and a French father, Réauna, affectionately known throughout Tremblay’s work as “Nana,” was sent with her two younger sisters, Béa and Alice, to be raised on her maternal grandparents’ farm in Sainte-Maria-de-Saskatchewan, a francophone Catholic enclave of two hundred souls. At the age of ten, amid swaying fields of wheat under the idyllic prairie sky of her loving foster family, Nana is suddenly told by her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in five years and who now lives in Montreal, to come “home” and help take care of her new baby brother.

So it is that Nana, with her faint recollection of the smell of the sea, embarks alone on an epic journey by train through Regina, Winnipeg, and Ottawa, on which she encounters a dizzying array of strangers and distant relatives, including Ti-Lou, the “she-wolf of Ottawa.”

To our delight, Michel Tremblay here takes his readers outside Quebec for the first time, on a quintessential North American journey – it is 1913, at a time of industry and adventure, when crossing the continent was an enterprise undertaken by so many, young and old, from myriads of cultures, unimpeded by the abstractly constructed borders and identities that have so fractured our world of today.

This, the first in Tremblay’s series of "crossings" novels, provides us with the back-story to the characters of his great Chronicles of Plateau Mont-Royal, particularly of his mother, “The Fat Woman Next Door …” and his maternal grandmother, who, though largely uneducated, was a voracious reader and introduced him to the world of reading and books, including Tintin adventure comics, mass-market novels, and The Inn of the Guardian Angel, which fascinated the young Tremblay with its sections of dramatic dialogue, inspiring the many great plays he would eventually write.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780889226760
Publisher: Talonbooks, Limited
Publication date: 01/03/2012
Edition description: Translatio
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Michel Tremblay: Born in a working-class family in Quebec, novelist and playwright Michel Tremblay was raised in Montreal’s Le Plateau neighbourhood. An ardent reader since a young age, Tremblay began to write, in hiding, as a teenager. One of the most produced and the most prominent playwrights in the history of Canadian theatre, Tremblay has received countless prestigious honours and accolades. Because of their charismatic originality, their vibrant character portrayals and the profound vision they embody, Tremblay’s dramatic, literary and autobiographical works have long enjoyed remarkable international popularity; his plays have been adapted and translated into dozens of languages and have achieved huge success in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. Of his own work, Tremblay has said,I know what I want in the theatre. I want a real political theatre, but I know that political theatre is dull. I write fables.”

Tremblay’s novel The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant was long-listed for the CBC Canada Reads program in both 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he appeared as a guest of honour at the Calgary WordFest. In January and February of 2005, the Manitoba Theatre Centre presented TremblayFest: a two-week extravaganza in which fifteen of Tremblay’s stage plays were performed by sixteen different theatre companies. In April 2006—as Montreal concluded its term as World Book Capital—Tremblay was the recipient of the Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix, awarded annually in recognition of a lifetime of literary achievement to a writer of international stature and accomplishment.

Sheila Fischman: Sheila Fischman is a member of the Order of Canada and has a doctorate from the University of Waterloo. In 1999, she received an honourary doctorate from the University of Ottawa. A two-time Governor General’s Award winner, Fischman has translated from French to English more than a hundred novels by such prominent Quebec writers as Michel Tremblay, Jacques Poulin, Anne Hébert, François Gravel, Marie-Claire Blais and Roch Carrier. She is a founding member of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and has also been a book columnist for the Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette. In 2008, Fischman was awarded the prestigious Molson Prize for her outstanding contributions to Canadian literature.
Originally from Saskatchewan, Fischman currently resides in Montreal.

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Crossing the Continent 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
gincam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Crossing the Continent" proves to be a fascinating, fateful journey for young Rheauna, known as "Nana". Author Michael Tremblay sends his girl heroine on an epic train trip across the Canadian countryside of the early 1900's as she rides to reunite with the mother who had abandoned her five years ago. Leaving behind her grandparents and their farm, Nana's trek entails three stops, and at each stop, Nana meets a different and disarming relative. Taking it all in, both what she can comprehend, and that which she can only contemplate, Nana eventually reaches her destination as a quite different girl than the one who first boarded the train. What she has left behind is not lost to her, and she gains much through her travels. Sometimes you have to let something go so that it can return to you in its own time and in its own way. "Crossing the Continent" is the first in Michael Tremblay's series of "Crossings" novels, providing the story and character origins of his acclaimed "Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal". Review Copy Gratis Library Thing
fuzzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Crossing the Continent" was a Member Giveaway book, recently received. It has been described as a 'coming of age' story which it is...but it is more than that. The author presents characters into the story who are eccentric, but then he backtracks into the past to reveal why these people act as they do...from the blabber mouth stranger who never ceases her chatter for hours to the cousin who has chosen a profession mystifying to young 'Nana', to her great uncle who is a whale of gluttonous flesh begging for escape. I may even reread this book to glean more insight from the characters.
JGoto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Michael Tremblay's Crossing the Continent is set in 1913 Canada. Ten year old Nana is called to leave her Grandparents' loving home in rural Saskatchewan where she spent most of her life and go to Montreal to join the mother who had abandoned her five years earlier. This is the story of Nana's train journey to her new, uncertain life in the East. Trembly's prose is quiet, but moving."There's no salt water anywhere, just prairies, flat and monotonous, whose movements, however, sometimes resemble those of the great Atlantic Ocean that rocked her first years. The same swell, calm or furious, but made up of fields of hay or corn instead of real waves that break on the beach. And around here, the only beach is the road that runs along the cornfield, and not one wave ever comes there to die."During her journey, Nana gets off the train three times to spend one night each with a relative. We see these three women, as well as a couple of people she meets on the train, through the eyes of young Nana. She is intelligent enough to know that she doesn't completely understand what she is seeing, but sensitive enough to feel the sadness that's at the core of their lives. This novel gives the back-story of the characters in Trembly's Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal.