Neighbourhood Watch

Translated by: Rhonda Mullins

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

Mélissa, Roxane, and Kevin have never had it easy. As their parents face their own struggles – with addiction, unemployment, and abuse – they must learn to fend for themselves. Though their lives converge at school, on the street, at the corner store, or when they can hear each other through their apartments’ thin walls, they each feel deeply alone. Neighbourhood Watch tells their coming-of-age stories with a cinematic ease, moving between despair and the unalterable hope of childhood.

With her characteristic poetic flair and generosity, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, author of the acclaimed Suzanne, has painted, in brief strokes, an unforgettable and moving portrait of a fictional apartment block in Montreal.

This translation of her 2010 debut novel is presented with an afterword interview with a woman who, as a child, was the inspiration behind the character of Roxane.

‘This is prose to lose yourself in. Never complicated, it’s gentle like a love song, comforting and enveloping like a black-and-white film, full of tones and textures. These sentences can destroy us. Not for their simplicity, but for the powerful beauty within the simplicity.’ —Peter McCambridge, ‘Best Translated Book Award: Why This Book Should Win,’ on Suzanne


Rhonda Mullins

Rhonda Mullins is a Montreal-based translator who has translated many books from French into English, including Jocelyne Saucier’s And Miles To Go Before I Sleep, Grégoire Courtois’ The Laws of the Skies, Dominique Fortier’s Paper Houses, and Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s Suzanne. She is a seven-time finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation, winning the award in 2015 for her translation of Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals. Novels she has translated were contenders for CBC Canada Reads in 2015 and 2019 and one was a finalist for the 2018 Best Translated Book Award. Mullins was the inaugural literary translator in residence at Concordia University in 2018. She is a mentor to emerging translators in the Banff International Literary Translation Program.


“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 brings a filmmaker’s eye to each scene, framing every vignette with both a startling beauty and a heartbreaking realism. That the book features a new interview with the young woman who was the model for Roxanne only adds to its intimate verisimilitude. The result is a powerful, unforgettable read.” – Toronto Star

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


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128 Pages

0.42lb0.5in5.0in * 8.0in


November 24, 2020


Coach House Books



Book Subjects:

FICTION / Coming of Age




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