Merci to all who have read and reviewed Autobiography of Childhood this fall–particularly the following.
Autobiography of Childhood is a sharp, post-millennial family novel with a purpose, a kinetic, shared trauma that investigates the parts and the whole, creating an uneasy tableau of life’s arbitrary cruelties.
The novel is a striking comment on tragedy and its place in the human jigsaw puzzle as the Combal family tries to cope with what everyone’s family must some day face, collectively and alone.
The author is a poet, who was previously nominated for a Governor General’s Award, and it shows. The language is lyrical, circular at times, as is the story. But the novel’s strength is in its multi-dimensional look at the characters as they tell their tales.
It’s a sad story, but in many ways it’s universal. Everybody dies, we all lose siblings, and we all inevitably lose our childhood. Queyras has created a layered, intense look at relationships, life and families in her first novel.
Maisonneuve (not online, print! buy print!)
The novel moves through six different characters’ perspectives, each of whom takes a turn attacking Adel, the family’s harsh matriarch. We don’t hear Adel’s side of the story, but Queyras never turns her into a one-dimensional monster — instead, Autobiography’s troupe comes to quietly accept its own dysfunction. Queyras, who lives in Montreal, fills the novel with wistful odes to Vancouver, but it’s far from sentimental; she navigates the heavy subject matter with brisk Faulkner-esque aplomb.
This Magazine (again, print!)
‘With each reaction (or non-reaction) to the news of Therese’s impending death, Queyras shows the individual struggles of her characters and the specific issues of their entire family. She also manages to make you feel as if you’re a part of it all, like all families can relate, like all childhoods somehow have an unbreakable link.’
Book Ends at Type Books, and Zoe Whittal.