Are you looking for your next read? Here are the 2021 favourites from Bertrand Bookstore, composed exclusively of your bookseller’s favourite books as well as their recommendations for this vacation.
Elise’s choice (Available in English only)
A mingling of genres with an atypical structure set between two time periods, this is a modern novel that smartly blends horror, a passion for literature, and highly colourful queer characters. Brilliant, so she says!
Released in 2012 under the title “Elle et Nous” and republished in 2021 following the stratospheric success of Kukum (2019, Libre Expression), “Atuk, Elle et Nous” takes us through the story of Jeanette, Michel Jean‘s grandmother. We love it for the writing, the universe, and the author’s sensibilities. What more do we need to say?
A very personal story that is at once concise yet unrestrained, told through a rich, funny, and touching voice. It would take nothing less to combine autobiography and science fiction in the same work! A deft success and a mind-blowing account of the incredible fragility of one’s personal right to be oneself as transgender, today and possibly tomorrow. Additionally, much of the action takes place in le Vieux, so you get to hang out on the Williams Street of the future! Nominated for the 2022 Collégiens Prize and the Rendez-vous des premiers romans.
"What sound does hope make when it dies?” Anouk Lanouette Turgeon knows the answer to that question... Her "Fretless Life" is concentrated emotions drawn with such acuity that it feels unsettlingly as if we’ve been in these situations, though we never have. It’s an inner road trip of a child, a wife, and a mother as she faces the impossible. Intense, enraging, and hilarious. Through this piece of (wildly literary) autofiction, the author aims to keep a trace of her missing child alive on this Earth, so that she won’t be forgotten. We consider it a success, as you start to miss little Jade the second you read the last sentence.
In Haute démolition, Jean-Philippe Baril Guérard paints a portrait using dark humour without concession for those that gravitate toward that sort of thing. True to himself, he crafts a main character for whom we feel pity at some points, and exasperation at others, but to whom we never feel indifferent. The narration is scathing, the viewpoint is lucid, and the different themes (the thirst for success, the fragility of ego, emotional dependence) form a fascinating web that you can take a certain kind of pleasure in reading.
A novel to read if you want to remember the summer… the sticky asphalt of a sweltering Montreal is one of the main characters of this first bittersweet novel, the not-so-ordinary tale of two kids from shaky families who roam the metropolis at night, straying further from their childhood and its illusions.
An affecting novel that plunges you right into Montreal during the 30’s, based on a little known historic fact: in March 1933, Nikita Zynchuck, immigrant and seeking work, is killed by a bullet in the back shot by a police officer. The story of this event and the days that follow bring us through cosmopolitan Montreal, marked by the Depression, misery, tensions between culture and religion, and, not least of all, insurrectional pushes by the communists. This book is social, essential, historic, AND contemporary.
No expenses spared, this book is the fruit borne from the passionate work of the historians and archaeologists at Pointe-à-Callière. This formidable publication dedicated to the current area of Youville, notable for the construction of Parliament in 1834, and which saw Montreal become the capital of “Canada’s province” right under its nose. For lovers of le Vieux… This book is extremely well done and insanely fascinating, even for the non-initiated!
With a perpetual ingenuity, La plus secrète mémoire des hommes is a stunning novel dominated by the necessity of choice between writing and life, or the desire to evolve past the matter of the face-off between Africa and the West. It is above all else a love song to literature and its timeless quality. A sensation, this fourth novel in his bibliography marks an international recognition of this young Senegalese author, barely thirty years old, with this being his fourth novel.
Prix Medicis 2021
In this autofiction, a genre that she has excelled in for years, this author revisits a subject that has stuck with her: the sexual abuse by her father that she was a victim of when she was 13 years old. This time, she tackles the subject in a linear story set from the emotional point of view of the child, then adolescent that she was, before outlining the shape of the repercussions this violation has had on the adult woman she became. Difficult, but Christine Angot’s voice is decidedly unique.
2021 Académie Française Grand Prize
An inevitably unstable love triangle, yet still poetic and quirky. This story uses genial, erudite, and direct language, an imprint of the romanticism of yesteryear. But downright charming… Winner of the 2021 Académie Française Grand Prize, this young prodigy’s fourth book in the Gallimard White Collection is without a doubt one of its best!
2021 Prix Femina
The first of the grand prizes in literature awarded this year. Introducing us to a family shaken by the birth of a handicapped child, the author masterfully shares three visions – across three parties – of the sibling bonds connecting them. The oldest grows fiercely attached, the younger is disgusted by this eternal infant that needs such care, and the youngest, arrived after the departure of their handicapped older brother, regrets never having known him.
2021 Governor General’s Literary Award
A huge critical and public success from the end of 2020, Faire les Sucres sweeps the year 2021 with this prize. The story of a privileged couple in decline after an accident that calls into question the culpability of the husband, ringing in parallel with the modest sobriety and resilience of the victim, Célia. The agile plume of Fanny Britt resolutely hits the mark!
2021 France-Québec Prize
Simon Venne, forty-nine years old, resigns from his post as professor at the Cegep at Old Montreal. He will no longer teach his course “Western Civilization in Evolution”; too much pain, too much remorse. His steps take him to New Orleans where, in a bar at the French Market, he makes the acquaintance of a young woman who speaks in an indefinable French. Her name is Ruth.