Character Study: Main Character, from Universal Bureau of Copyrights

All of the call-outs we make in our Character Study collage this week are (c), the Universal Bureau of Copyrights. Check out the perils of a dystopia where everything is owned, and their violent impact on the book’s protagonist, below.


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In Character Study, we’ll take a deeper look at one character from a book or series. Get to know the character–what they like, what they do, and, more importantly, what they read. If you like them, spend a little more time getting to know them by reading the book!
Writing “Main Character” was not a mistake. In Bertrand Laverdure’s Universal Bureau of Copyrights (translated by Oana Avasilichioaei and published by BookThug), the protagonist is never named, but nonetheless owned in his entirety: his clothes, thoughts, future, and even his limbs are at the (questionable) mercy of a monolithic bureaucracy. The titular Bureau assigns copyrights not just to pieces of art or inventions, but people, and moreover, all the aspects that make up those people. As the main character lurches through the narrative, he cuts across the world from one chapter to the next: here in Brussels, there in Montreal. The world is torn asunder with garbage and ruin, and fictional characters – like the manaical Jokey Smurf – vie for space among the real; just as real life is visited upon by swarms of literary tourists. To take another step back, the very fabric of the author/character relationship is fraying.Confusing? Perhaps. But absolutely gripping. Check out Bertrand and Oana’s co-reading of Universal Bureau of Copyrights below, and then check out the book for yourself.