In October 1970, FLQ terrorists kidnapped a British diplomat in Montreal and held him hostage for fifty-nine days. More than thirty years later, the story continues to reverberate, and a Montreal family is at a crossroads. The three members of the Lévesque family each have their own private struggles. Luc Lévesque is a celebrated Quebec writer, revered as much for his novels about the working-class neighbourhood of Saint-Henri as for his separatist views. But this is 2001. The dreams of a new nation are dying, and Luc is increasingly dissatisfied with his life. Luc’s wife, Hannah, has worked faithfully as his translator for years, yet she is also the daughter of a man who served as a special prosecutor during the October Crisis, and she has distanced herself from her English-speaking family. Hugo, their troubled fourteen-year-old son, has been living in the shadow of a larger-than-life father and is struggling with his own identity. In confusion and anger, he commits a reckless act that puts everyone around him on a collision course with the past.
My October examines issues of history, language, and cultural identity amid the ethnic and linguistic diversity of today’s Montreal. Inspired in part by two real-life figures from Quebec’s past—James Richard Cross, the British diplomat who was held captive by FLQ terrorists, and Jacques Lanctôt, the man who was Cross’s captor—this is also a story about the province’s turbulent history and ever-shifting role within the country at whose heart it lies.
Weaving together three unique voices, Rothman has created a masterful tale of a modern family torn apart by the weight of history and words left unsaid.