translated by Margaret Wilson Fuller
A Radio-Canada journalist living in Vancouver returns to his native Québec City to spend Christmas with his family. Before leaving the West Coast, a neighbour has asked him to research her Chinese grandfather’s past in Québec. As the journalist traces the grandfather’s history, he notices a mysterious young man with whom he crosses paths, but does not interact. This unnamed individual is obsessed by the many fires which decimated Québec City in the 19th century. As the two men carry out their separate investigations, each discovers unknown facets of the city –– from the old graveyards of the Chinese community and a possible traffic in bones, to an unfinished tunnel used by young squatters, to the many tragic fires that marked the old capital.
The Gravediggers is a fascinating story of lineage and belonging in which, like an archaeologist, André Lamontagne uncovers historical dramas as he researches Chinese roots and identity. Originally published in French, this engaging tale of what lies buried beneath a city’s streets has been translated into English by Margaret Wilson Fuller.
André Lamontagne was born in Québec City and now lives in Vancouver where he is Professor of French and head of the French, Hispanic and Italian Studies Department at the University of British Columbia. As a scholar and creative writer, he is the author of two essays on Quebecois Literature, Les mots des autres (1992) and Le roman québécois contemporain: les voix sous les mots (2004) and of Le tribunal parallèle, a collection of short stories, nominated for the Prix des lecteurs de Radio-Canada 2007 and for the 2008 Prix Emile-Ollivier du Conseil supérieur de la langue française. The Gravediggers, his first novel, originally published in French as Les fossoyeurs, was nominated for the 2010 Prix des lecteurs de Radio-Canada. André Lamontagne is vice-president of the Francophone Historical Society of British Columbia.
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