Suzanne, Anais Barbeau-Lavalette, 2015 (translated by Rhonda Mullins 2017)

I cannot escape the aura of this granddaughter’s singular capture of the life of her elusive artist and poet grandmother, Suzanne Meloche, in a fictionalized series of short, diary-like accounts written in the 2nd person and based on facts uncovered in personal effects and through a private investigator’s research.
The portrait is complex. Suzanne, “the woman who flees”—a literal translation of the original French title—created poetry and abstract, violent art in the context of the Automatist movement in Duplessis-repressed Quebec. Utterly selfish and cruel, except when in the thrall of new love or pity, Suzanne abandons children, lovers, cities and rarely regrets not belonging anywhere.
Her photo shows a beautiful, catlike and feral face that becomes who she became.
This 2019 CBC Canada Reads selection: a must-read. 8/10

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