The Imago Stage

By Karoline Georges
Translated by Rhonda Mullins

The Imago Stage
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Growing up with a menacing drunk for a father and a grief-stricken mother, a girl spends her 1980s childhood staring at the television to escape the tension, depression, and looming violence that fill her suburban home. After winning a modelling competition, she dedicates herself ... Read more


Overview

Growing up with a menacing drunk for a father and a grief-stricken mother, a girl spends her 1980s childhood staring at the television to escape the tension, depression, and looming violence that fill her suburban home. After winning a modelling competition, she dedicates herself to becoming a placid image onto which anything can be projected, a blank slate with a blank stare. Earning enough in Paris to retire in her twenties, she buys a studio in Montreal and retreats from the world and its perceived threats, cultivating her existence as an image through her virtual reality avatar. But when her mother develops cancer and nears the end of her life, she is forced to leave her cocoon – surrounded by her posse of augmented reality superheroes – and interact with the world and her parents without the mask of her perfect, virtual self.
Georges offers up an alienated childhood with shifting pop culture obsessions, a woman’s awakening to the role of the image in culture, and her eventual isolation in her apartment and the world online. It is a catalogue of the anxieties of an age, from nuclear war to terrorism, climate change to biological warfare. Set in the past and not-too-distant future of Montreal, The Imago Stage is an ominous tale of oppression, suppression, and disembodiment.

Karoline Georges

After studying film and art history, Karoline Georges began a multidisciplinary artistic approach where video, audio art, photography, literature, and 3D modeling coexisted. She is the author of seven books, including Sous béton (finalist for the 2012 Quebec Booksellers' Prize). In 2012, she received the Artistic Creation Award from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. Her latest novel, Life Synthetic, has won several honors in French, including the Governor General's Literary Award in 2018.

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

"A lucid and provocative novel. Karoline Georges brilliantly breaks open our fascination for screens, for emoticon conversations, for beauty without imperfections, for eternal life. "

"Karoline Georges doesn’t align herself with the vast community of techno-pessimists. Without slipping into utopianism, she sees technology’s exponential growth with clarity and curiosity. .. Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are words that do not scare her. .. With Karoline Georges, we go beyond obsession, beyond a will to please, or to seduce. We aim instead for pure disembodiment, we’re virtually in the realm of mysticism. "

"Here is an intoxicating novel, enigmatic and deeply troubling. .. a brilliant book, on our relationships to art, to bodies, and to contemporary technology, which assures us that images do indeed hold the power of seduction. "

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