Anima

By Wajdi Mouawad
Translated by Linda Gaboriau

Anima
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This award-winning novel by playwright Wadji Mouawad is a thriller and a road novel – written in the North African storytelling tradition in which events unfold from an animal point of view.

The novel opens with a brutal murder: the protagonist arrives home to find his wife ... Read more


Overview

This award-winning novel by playwright Wadji Mouawad is a thriller and a road novel – written in the North African storytelling tradition in which events unfold from an animal point of view.

The novel opens with a brutal murder: the protagonist arrives home to find his wife lying in a pool of blood. Driven by grief and the need to find whoever did this – “I want to see his face, I want to know who he is” – the protagonist sets out on desperate journey from Montreal to Indian reserves along the Canada–U.S. border, south through Civil War sites in the Midwest, to Animas, New Mexico. The furious odyssey awakens long-buried memories that make present circumstances even more painful.

This masterful novel is told in a bestiary of voices, more than fifty animals, birds, and insects, each with their own characterization and style of speaking, reveal the unflattering contrast between the human and the natural. Violent and dark, the novel nevertheless moves beyond the thriller genre to become a book of multiple levels, rich in symbolism and open to complex interpretation. While set in North America, Mouawad’s Lebanese roots suffuse the text, which becomes an examination of cultural influences and at the same time an excavation of childhood trauma and the legacy of war.

Anima has resonated with readers worldwide. It’s been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, and Catalan. It won the Thyde Monnier Grand Prize from the Société des Gens de Lettres, the Mediterranean Prize, the Literary Prize for a Second Novel in Laval, the Golden Alga Award, the Phoenix Award (as part of the Beirut Spring Festival), and the Catalan Llibreter Prize for Foreign Novel, all in 2012 and 2013. In 2015, Anima won the Lire en Poche, a prize awarded annually in France in celebration of the paperback book. An elegant translation by Linda Gaboriau brings this celebrated novel to English readers.

Wajdi Mouawad

Wajdi Mouawad (author of Scorched, Tideline, Forests and Heavens, among others) has established himself as a uniquely original player on the contemporary theatre scene. His plays have been translated into more than twenty languages and presented all over the world. In all his work, from his own plays and adaptations, from the productions he has directed to the novels he wrote, Wajdi Mouawad expresses the conviction that “art bears witness to human existence through the prism of beauty.” He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours for his work. He is currently Artistic Director of Théatre de la Colline—théâtre national in Paris.

Linda Gaboriau

A major figure in Quebec theatre, MICHEL TREMBLAY has built an impressive body of work as a playwright, novelist, translator, and screenwriter. To date, Michel’s complete works include 29 plays (including 2 theatrical adaptations of his own work); 30 novels; 6 collections of autobiographical stories; a collection of tales; 7 screenplays; 46 translations/adaptations of works by foreign writers; 9 plays and 12 stories printed in diverse publications; an opera libretto; a song cycle; a Symphonic Christmas Tale and 2 musicals. His plays have been published and translated into 40 languages and have garnered critical acclaim in Canada, the United States, and more than 50 countries around the world. His name can be found in the Larousse and Robert Dictionaries, the Who’s Who Encyclopedia, the Dictionary of International Biography and the Encyclopedia Britannica. During his career, Michel has received more than 80 prizes, citations and honours including the Grand Prix de la Francophonie, awarded by the Académie française in 2018, as well as the Prince Pierre de Monaco Literary Prize and the Prix Gilles-Corbeil for his contribution to the arts in 2017. A six-time winner of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, he won nine Chalmers Awards and five Grand Prix du public presented during Montreal’s annual book fair le Salon du livre. In 1999, he was awarded the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. He has also received six honorary doctorates.

Reviews

Praise for the French novel:
"This enigmatic character will be seen in the course of the novel by unusual witnesses to his experience, but immediately the reader understands that Wahhch is himself a sort of stranger in the Camusian sense of the term; foreign to the world, he dissociates himself to the point that he is almost deliberately schizophrenic in order to endure the pain that afflicts him. It is precisely the agony that he drags along with him, a silent, diffuse, animal pain, imprinted from childhood, we learn later, which is felt by the least living being in contact with him, from the cat to the raven, through the earthworm, the gnat, the skunk, the vulture ... and even the reader (Lector lectoransis domesticus)."
Le Devoir

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