First Fiction Friday: You Will Love What You Have Killed
August 28, 2020
In this edition of First Fiction Friday, we take a peak beneath the cover of Kevin Lambert's prize-winning debut novel
You Will Love What You Have Killed, recently published in a new english translation from Biblioasis. This book is many things – a ghost-filled queer coming-of-age revenge story that, at it's heart, is also a hope-filled elegy to the outsiders – to the ones who know the pain of growing up in communities that are determined to push them away. And to the ones who aren't afraid to push back, even from beyond the grave...
The author: Born in 1992, Kevin Lambert grew up in Chicoutimi, Quebec. He earned a Master's degree in creative writing at the Université de Montréal. His first novel, You Will Love What You Have Killed, was widely acclaimed, won a prize for the best novel from the Saguenay region, and was a finalist for Quebec's Booksellers’ Prize. His second novel, Querelle de Roberval, has been acclaimed in both Quebec, where it was nominated for four literary prizes, and France, where it was a finalist for the prestigious Prix Médicis and the literary prize of the Paris newspaper Le Monde. Lambert lives in Montreal.
Why you need to read this now:
You Will Love What You Have Killed, the new English translation of Kevin Lambert’s debut novel, is a humorous and horrifying story that will not only appeal to fans of both literary fiction and genre fiction, but also to readers of LGBTQ2+ literature. It's a haunting, jarring, and unforgettable story about the children of Chicoutimi, Quebec, who keep getting killed, but then return to their normal routines and lives as ghosts. Soon there are enough of them to enact revenge on the adults who wronged them. Lambert delves into coming of age elements like sexuality, abuse, and misfortune, but transforms the narrative into a bizarre but enticing queer ghost story.
When asked what he wants readers to take away from the novel, Lambert said he hopes it appeals to people who felt like an outsider growing up. “Queer people often have a complex relationship with their origins, as their childhoods weren’t necessarily synonymous with security and happy, idealistic, or peaceful times,” he said. He takes the discomfort and pain of growing up in a homophobic community and pushes it even further, demonstrating that horror often goes hand in hand with humour.
Although it is fiction, the story is also personal. Uncannily, there is a character named Kevin Lambert, who may not be so nice. Kevin Lambert (the author) describes his playfulness with autofiction: “This character, who is my total opposite, is somewhat the marker of my indirect relationship with autobiography: my experiences, my feelings, and myself are indeed in the book, but disguised, masked, and difficult to recognize. Everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”
The novel is unforgettable and will stick with readers, even after closing the last page. Author Tamara Faith Berger gave it a glowing review: “Chicoutimi lore and Chicoutimi cruelties gush forth almost biblically in a story about the power of children. Kevin Lambert the writer (not Kevin Lambert the killer) works like a multi-armed puppet master in this addictive, dazzling derailment of a book.”
Take the grotesque playfulness of The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey, but instead give the children a voice, and mix it with the lyricism, storytelling, and queerness of
Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn, which similarly shows how a small town can be both literally and metaphorically a ghost town.
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