Eighty-five years of art and history through the eyes of a woman who fled her family – as re-imagined by her granddaughter.
Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette never knew her mother’s mother. Curious to understand why her grandmother, Suzanne, a sometime painter and poet associated with Les Automatistes, a movement of dissident artists that included Paul-Émile Borduas, abandoned her husband and young family, Barbeau-Lavalette hired a private detective to piece together Suzanne’s life.
Suzanne, winner of the Prix des libraires du Québec and a bestseller in French, is a fictionalized account of Suzanne’s life over eighty-five years, from Montreal to New York to Brussels, from lover to lover, through an abortion, alcoholism, Buddhism, and an asylum. It takes readers through the Great Depression, Québec's Quiet Revolution, women’s liberation, and the American civil rights movement, offering a portrait of a volatile, fascinating woman on the margins of history. And it’s a granddaughter’s search for a past for herself, for understanding and forgiveness.
‘It’s about a nameless despair, an unbearable sadness. But it’s also a reflection on what it means to be a mother, and an artist. Most of all, it’s a magnificent novel. ’– Les Méconnus
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 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.