Mai at the Predators' Ball

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House of Anansi, Jun 9, 2012 - Fiction - 256 pages
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Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award: Translation. Shortlisted for the Cole Foundation Prize for Translation.

In Mai at the Predators' Ball, Marie-Claire Blais, literary legend and four-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, offers a mesmerizing and unforgettable portrait of imaginary beings who seem to embrace the whole of humanity.

Every night in the Saloon, after darkness falls, a group of boys are transformed into creatures we see only in dreams. They adorn themselves in colourful dresses and wigs and they take to the stage to sing and dance. They open their arms to those who are excluded -- both men and women, triumphant and threatened, both free and bound -- and every evening is a carnival of freedom and transgression.

With this masterful novel, Blais invites us to share the drama of perfect joy, the tragedy of happiness, and she gives us her best work yet.


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The Verdict:
What Nigel Spencer has achieved with the translation of Marie Claire Blais's Mai au bal des prédateurs is nothing short of brilliance. He has met the formidable challenge of conveying in
English the complexity and richness of this narrative with a mastery that is stunning in its range of colour and tone.
I found myself deeply engrossed in her hallucinatory and poetic story, ripe for underlining and rereading. Like any hallucinogen, once you give yourself over to it, you can welcome in the mind-expanding experience...Mai at the Predator's Ball will reward you.
--Zoe Whittall--- GLOBE AND MAIL
I was really happy that Nigel Spencer won for his translation of Marie-Claire Blais's book Mai at the Predator's Ball. He's won twice before for translating Marie-Claire Blais...she's where it's at.
Nigel Spencer of Montreal won his third Governor General's Award for Translation. Spencer agreed that translators are playing a greater and greater role as books cross linguistic borders: "Certainly in Canada more and more, and of course in Europe with the European Community," Spencer said, noting that he found it ironic that the Canada Council doesn't have an exact counterpart anywhere else, as Europe experiences a growing mix of amateurs and professionals thrashing around translating not just books but movies and TV.
Mai at the Predators’Ball begins with Dieudonné saying to Petites Cendres “love, my friend, love before every last bell has tolled for you,” and the book is about love...wherever you find love that is your family, even with all its flaws, so many of the scenes in the book take place at the Porte du Baiser Saloon, a magical, very Montreal kind of club where talented artists create beautiful shows, Yinn the “Thai prince...young men on the margins...finding refuge with darling Yinn and his husband Jason...this is a great pleasure for the reader, the genuine fluidity of gender, but only for men, the girls and women in this book are restrained, hemmed in, or suffer if they let themselves claim freedom, that's the Predators' Ball...and Mai with her inline skates, saving herself from the worst impulses of the damaged people around her, the world intrudes...we see it all...let it all work its way into your bloodstream, before you bite off more, no, it keeps coming at you as in life...
(Chantale—on GOODREADS)
This book explores sexuality and alluring club nightlife juxtaposed with life in the suburbs. A group of drag queens at an evening club perform for men and women. Young girls promise their fathers to be innocent forever but no one is entirely honest with each other.
This is experimental literature which challenges our assumptions of what a book should be. The writing is stream of conscious and the characters change from comma to comma...the fast paced sentences capture your imagination, challenge your mind and make you marvel at how Blais is able to connect so many stories so seamlessly.


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About the author (2012)

Marie-Claire Blais is the internationally revered author of more than twenty-five books, many of which have been published around the world. In addition to the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, which she has won four times, Blais has been awarded the Gilles-Corbeil Prize, the Médicis Prize, the Molson Prize, and Guggenheim Fellowships. She divides her time between Quebec and Florida.

Nigel Spencer has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation with three novels by Marie-Claire Blais: Thunder and Light, Augustino and the Choir of Destruction, and Mai at the Predators’ Ball, which was also a finalist for the QWF Cole Foundation Prize for Translation. He has translated numerous other works and films by and about Marie-Claire Blais, Poet Laureate Pauline Michel, Evelyn de la Chenelière, and others. He is also a film-subtitler, editor, and actor now living in Montreal.

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