Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!: requiem for a divided country

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A.A. Knopf, 1992 - History - 277 pages
10 Reviews
A humorous look at Quebec's movement toward independence from Canada, remarking upon the Draconian language laws imposed on English-speaking Quebecois, the economic problems posed by the movement, and the troubles with blind nationalism.

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You can write a humorous book on laughable language laws, but not on anti-semitism, nor aboriginal rights, nor even on Franco-Canadian
grievances and aspirations. Richler's (now much-dated) book, though it contains some relevant truths and insights, and is no doubt driven by some genuine anguish on the part of the author, is, in the end, an exercise in superficial stereotyping, insensitivity and bad taste. Everything that is true in it could have been said in an uncompromising way without the gratuitous offensiveness (but then it wouldn't have been good for laughs). But to keep it fun, most of the real core of the ethnic problems of Quebec would have had to be omitted. Perhaps a genuine outsider like Bill Bryson could have written about some of it in a detached, good-natured way. But clearly Mordechai Richler was not up to it. (And no, it does not help the book, nor the author's understanding, that he cannot speak (only reads) French, hence can only banter with bar-buddies, one-sidedly.) 

Review: Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!: Requiem for a Divided Country

User Review  - Helen - Goodreads

The situation has changed since the publication of this book but it was interesting to get an overview of the history leading up to the call for referendum in the early 90s. Having studied Quebec ... Read full review


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About the author (1992)

Mordecai Richler was born in Montreal in 1931. Among his most successful novels are "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" (made into an acclaimed film starring Richard Dreyfuss), "St. Urbain's Horseman, Solomon Gursky Was Here, " and "Barney's Version." He divides his time between Canada (Montreal and Lake Memphremagog) and London.

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