Sina Queyras

if you open your mouth, ache.


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Merci Lambda Literary Review

Again, well read. Thanks to the author. It’s a difficult book and when someone has taken the time to really inhabit it, I’m very pleased. Course, if you were to read Coetzee’s Disgrace, or Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina before you tackled A of C, you might find it breezy…

Posted on 20. May, 2012 by Sara Rauch in Fiction, Reviews

This is no bucolic childhood. Sina Queyras’s Autobiography of Childhood (Coach House Books) is a novel about grief, about anger, about familial obligation and madness and conflict. It is an internal, abstracted construction of family. Told in turn by six members of the Combal family, the narrative revolves around the death of one sister, Therese, but plumes out wider, taking in the panoramic view of western Canada and the Combal family history—which includes the teenage death of their eldest brother and the menacing shadow of their brilliant, manic mother, Adel.


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Merci Bull Calf Review

This is the first I’ve seen of this journal–it looks great though, and very smart reads. Who can ask for more than a smart read?

Queyras’s book alludes to the shifting importance of place in North-American lives. In his 1993 book, Post-National Arguments, Frank Davey suggests that recent Canadian fiction is set in places as interchangeable as “post-cards”; characters inhabit a placeless, post-national space of indistinguishable locales that are the bland mortar of a grey global modernity. Queyras’s novel, however, suggests that place is becoming more important. For instance, Guddy’s dilemma about what city would best accommodate her desired way of life suggests that place matters: Phoenix is not Philadelphia, which is not Brooklyn, which is not Vancouver, all locales that figure in Guddy’s very contemporary dilemma. These places possess real difference for the characters, yet Queyras also hints at the source of such distinction: developers’ ability to manufacture urban lifestyle ideals that cater to distinct demographics. North-American cities now function as commodities; there are some, like Guddy, who have the ability to move among these branded nodes. Others, however, are confined in space, such as Jerry stuck in his basement apartment and Adel stranded on the social fringes in her trailer. Their very inability to pick up and move along is a reflection of their economic marginalization. While the book is largely about the ineluctability of the past, it also offers a compelling vision of our present.