Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric Dupont

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Governor General's Literary Awards Translated Shortlist

Shortlisted for the Giller Prize and also a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards – Translation,  all the awards should just be thrown at Songs for the Cold of Heart. This is what these awards were created for weren’t they? The quality of the literary storytelling inside is phenomenal and the translation is impeccable. McCambridge maintains the eloquence and lyricism in Dupont’s writing and the whole reading experience was truly a wonderful one.

The blurb on the front says, “If the Americans have John Irving and the Colombians have Gabriel Garcia Marquez, we have Eric Dupont. And he’s every bit as good as them.” (Voir)

I couldn’t agree more. The entire time I felt wrapped in the loving embrace of a classic Irving tale, this felt like I was reading the Prayer for Owen Meany, Hotel New Hampshire and/or The World According to Garp. It was so Irving-esque in all of its 600-page glory, you would think Irving stood behind Dupont whispering in his ear while he was writing.

yarn to rival the best of them, a big fat whopper of a tall tale that bounces around from provincial Rivière-du-Loup in 1919 to Nagasaki, 1990s Berlin, Rome, and beyond. This is the story of a century—long and glorious, stuffed full of parallels, repeating motifs, and unforgettable characters—with the passion and plotting of a modern-day Tosca.

That also is perfectly said: A yarn, a big fat whopper of a tall tale — you betcha! And I loved it all. It’s difficult to summarize or to capture what and who everyone is inside and to explain what it was all about, so all I can say is that it was a lot about the stories we tell, the stories we hear, the stories we remember, the ones we tell ourselves and to others, the stories that others tell us and to others, and what we remember from those stories and what others remember or take away from them as well. Everyone remembers differently and things that may or may not be more important to others may or may not be seen or heard the same by us. Is that making any sense? All I can truly say is that I loved it and the yarn and bit fat whopper of storytelling inside was completely amazing.

The opera, Tosca, is mentioned often and I feel as though I need to dig deeper into that so I can place it into better context against the stories. The bass clef (as shown on the cover) is also a recurring motif and Dupont may have deeper meaning for it as well.  I don’t feel as though I missed out on anything however by not digging deeper into these two things while reading, I just sat back and happily enjoyed the ride.

Once again, a big chunky novel has won me over and been given another 5-star rating! I’ve had great success this year when I’ve read these chunksters! And, no, while I haven’t read any of the other shortlisted titles on the Giller Prize list, I still crown Songs for the Cold of Heart the rightful winner! I’m definitely interested in hearing what others think. Have you read any of the other books? Have you read Songs for the Cold of Heart yet? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? (especially seeing as how I have only read the one from the shortlist. ;-)) We’ll just have to wait and see until the Governor General’s announcement on October 30th and November 19th for the Giller Prize award announcement to see if I’m right!

(I do have to say I was WAY off in my Man Booker Prize award winner however! I was hoping for Overstory, by Richard Powers (again, the only one I read so far from that shortlist too) but today, they crowned Milkman by Anna Burns.)