Sunday, September 11, 2011


by Nicolas Dickner; translated by Lazer Lederhendler
Trumpeter, 2009

The book's opening line, "My name is UNIMPORTANT", is a great hook. Why is the narrator's name unimportant? Who is he or she? Why does s/he have such a self-effacing view? etc.

A bit confusing for the first while as the story alternates between points of view (the "unimportant" narrator and two other protagonists - Noah and Joyce). Once they are clear in your head, though, the story is quite compelling. All three characters have come from different places to settle in Montreal. All three are on a psychological journey of sorts. And all three are connected, but don't know it.

Reminds me a bit of Melville's classic, Moby Dick, in the sense that you learn an awful lot about subjects you may not have much interest in (in this case cartography, fish, and archaeology). But a lot less boring than Moby.

While it's not a book I would ordinarily have plucked from the bookshelves, I thought I'd give it a shot since it's on the list of a book club I'm thinking of attending this month. I'm not sorry.

Winner of the Prix des libraires du Quebec, the Prix litteraire des collegiens, the Prix Anne-hebert (Quebec), and the Prix Printemps des lecteurs-Lavinal (France). Shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award, the Grand Prix litteraire Archambault; the Prix du public du Salon du livre de Montreal/La Presse, and longlisted for the Prix France-Quebec Jean-Hamelin.