Neighbourhood Watch

By Anais Barbeau-Lavalette
Translated by Rhonda Mullins

Neighbourhood Watch
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The lives of three families intersect in the hallways of an apartment block in a Montreal neighborhood.

Kevin lives in 62. His mom took off but it’s okay because his dad’s a wrestler and he always wins. Even when he gets laid off from his job. Melissa is in 64. She has to ... Read more


Overview

The lives of three families intersect in the hallways of an apartment block in a Montreal neighborhood.

Kevin lives in 62. His mom took off but it’s okay because his dad’s a wrestler and he always wins. Even when he gets laid off from his job. Melissa is in 64. She has to look after her siblings because there’s a restraining order that means her mom can’t be within fifty metres of them. So when Melissa needs to tell her something, she leaves a note on the sidewalk near where her mother is looking for customers. And Roxane, in 61, obsessed with the violin, collects her mom’s empties so she can sell them for a snack at the depanneur.

They hear each other through the thin walls. They’re all more grown up than they should be for twelve-year-olds, and they’re all alone -- so alone they don’t even try to find solace in one another’s company.

Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, author of the acclaimed Suzanne (2019 Canada Reads shortlist, Best Translated Book Award nominee, international bestseller), encountered real-life versions of these kids when she was making her film Le Ring. With her characteristic poetic flair and generosity, she has painted, in brief strokes, an unforgettable and moving portrait of a fictional apartment block in Montreal.

Anais Barbeau-Lavalette

Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette is a Montreal-based author and director. She was named 2012 Artist for Peace by the social justice organization Les Artistes Pour la Paix. In 2016, her novel La femme qui fuit (Suzanne) won the Prix des libraires du Québec.

Rhonda Mullins

Rhonda Mullins is a writer and translator. She received the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for Twenty-One Cardinals, her translation of Jocelyne Saucier's Les héritiers de la mine. And the Birds Rained Down, her translation of Jocelyne Saucier’s Il pleuvait des oiseaux, was a CBC Canada Reads Selection. It was also shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, as were her translations of Élise Turcotte’s Guyana and Hervé Fischer’s The Decline of the Hollywood Empire. Rhonda currently lives in Montréal.

Reviews

“You’ll recognize in this novel scenes from The Ring. The idea for this book was born long before. … After the film, she wanted to pursue their stories, without the heaviness of film. … The narration borrows the point of view and the crude and sometimes awkward language of the characters. ” —La Presse

“Barbeau-Lavalette takes on a naive and charming tone without a trace of miserabilism. ” —Voir Montréal

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