Nikolski’s for Real, Dude.

A long time since posting.  Forced renovations on our rented space moved us into family’s abodes, and an apparent lack of readership shifted priorities from Personal Mythologies.  What I forgot is that I started this blog for me; the ‘us’ is by extension (no offence).

I have a couple of posts to catch up with.  most pertinent is my finishing of Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, winner of the Canada Reads contest.

A read that I knew nothing more than it won the Canada Reads, over such books as Generation X and The Jade Peony. This extended into the ignorance of the original language of publication, which was French. Translated much more recently than its 2005 publication, Nikolski. That is the first bit of good news; it was not apparent that this was a translated work. Lazer Lederhendler, the translator, seems to be equally tauted on the Canada Reads website and deservedly so. The language of the book flows the way that you would hope that a quality narrative would, there is no missed idioms or linguistic stutters that would make it obviously that it was not written in English originally.

The book follows three characters from various nomadic origins through their adventures in their true development, or maturation, in the city of Montreal. I pulls in the regions of Canada by making one of the characters originate from a single mum who travels the prairies, a second from a tiny town in north-eastern Quebec and the third is a born and bred Montrealian. The first two characters are extraordinary to the point of unbelievability; mum drops Noah off in Montreal and he continues on through grad work in archaeology, the other is a high school drop out that self-teaches herself the art of computer building and hacking. We never hear from mum again and apparently taking computers apart, putting them together and making them work, even though you pulled them out of the garbage in the first place, just needs some books.

An enjoyable read. Most interesting is the way that Dickner plays with narration. The book begins in first person, then flips to third while relating the events of Noah and Joyce. Though this sounds like it would be disjointed and random, Dickner makes it work and believable.

The way that he connects the lives of his three protagonists is impressive too. Perhaps that is because of his capable flip-flopping from narrative perspectives, which allows the suspension of the laws of the universe that would be stacked against the possibility of these three people meeting and becoming involved with each other’s lives in any way.

Not a bad pick, especially from this crop. I am glad to see that the judges were willing to look at a book that was different and was a bit of an experiment with language, first and translation. Far fetched in places and not good enough to convince me of the possibility that the fictional events could occur in the same world I inhabit. If Chapters still has it for $10, definitely worth it.

1 comment

  1. I totally forgot we bought this. Where is it? Also, you’ve got to read “The Fat Girl Next Door is Pregnant” which was from Canada Reads 2009. It is still percolating in the back of my mind, every so often I’ll get flashbacks of scenes. Of course, I don’t know where that book is either. Maybe we should organize our books again.

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