translated by Jonathan Kaplansky
She wanted to go to Montreal, where apparently tango was all the rage…she didn’t want to wind up on the island, wasting what remained of her youth —she said youth without the slightest bit of shame…—playing boules, cards on rainy days. Is that a life? she asked, and she replied no, that’s not a life. She wanted to go out and be admired. Why not go and meet men who’d dance with her all night long?
On a Spanish-scented island, a languorous tango unfolds. People come and go, fortunes rise and fall like waves of the sea, men and women change partners — but the dance goes on. Although peopled with a colourful cast of characters, to one solitary observer this island paradise is a place where old elephants come to die. Hélène Rioux tells the exuberant tales of an ex-pat community. The elephant, used as a metaphor, becomes a portal to better understand human nature as the desires, degeneration and despair of the island’s residents are revealed in sometimes disturbing stories of irony and pathos. With an eye for detail and emotional nuance, Hélène Rioux brings a compassionate detachment to these tales of love, loss, cruelty and art as she writes of the memorable characters encountered in the Elephants’ Graveyard.
Hélène Rioux is an award-winning Quebec author. First published in French, Elephants’ Graveyard has been translated into English by Jonathan Kaplansky.
Born in Montreal, Hélène Rioux is the author of eight novels, popular both in France and Quebec. She has won several awards for fiction and translation and received five Governor General’s Award nominations, three for fiction and two for translation. She also writes poetry and short stories and has translated books into French by Elizabeth Hay, Yann Martel, Jeffrey Moore and Johanna Skibsrud.
Kaplansky has translated several titles by Hélène Rioux, as well
as several children’s titles and adult titles. His published translations,
besides those by Rioux, include work by Annie Ernaux, Hélène Dorion
and Serge Patrice Thibodeau. He also translated an extensive biography on filmmaker
Frank Borzage. Jonathan Kaplansky studied at Tufts University and Université
de Paris III, receiving an MA in French Language and Literature from McGill and
an MA in Translation from the University of Ottawa. Originally from Saint John,
New Brunswick, he currently lives in Montreal.
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