On Thursday, September 4th, Montrealers from all over put their Labour Day plans on hold to help celebrate the launch of Claire Holden Rothman's new novel, My October. Telling the story of the October Crisis of the 1970s (through the eyes of a twenty-first century narrator), the book shows precisely why, in Rothman's words, "October is not a neutral word" for those of us living in Montreal. My October deals with a sensitive topic with grace and flair.
"Speaking of grace and flair," says Arthur Holden, Rothman's husband who took on the task of introducing her that evening, "I'd like to tell you a little about my wife." Rothman is the author of two story collections and the novel The Heart Specialist. Her translation of Canada's first novel, L'influence du livre by Philippe-Ignace-François Aubert de Gaspé, was awarded the John Glassco Translation Prize, and My October has been long-listed for this year's Giller Prize.
Reading from the book, Rothman introduced us to Luc Lévesque, a Quebec writer and separatist, his wife Hannah, who has cut herself off from her anglophone heritage, and their fourteen year-old son Hugo, who struggles to come to terms with his own identity. Using the October Crisis as a backdrop, Rothman has created a tale of a family bearing the weight of language on its shoulders.
The reading was followed by a signing period, during which a very enthusiastic crowd gathered around her, Those who had spent their last moments of summer at this event were not disappointed.