Louis Hamelin burst onto the literary scene in 1989 with his first novel, La Rage, which won the Governor General's Literary Award. With this critically acclaimed novel, Hamelin staked out his territory: the cancerous advance of technology, the rape of the wilderness, the estrangement of contemporary society from matters of the soul.
Set against a backdrop of grey spruce and muskeg, Cowboy tells the story of Gilles Desches, a twenty-something who moves from Montreal to Grande-Ourse, a northern Quebec town haunted by the grisly memory of a twelve-year-old murder.
Located at the back of beyond, Grande-Ourse is a dismal place with a bleak future. Until, that is, a Quebec consortium buys up the town, wanting to turn it into a hunting and fishing paradise for wealthy Americans seeking city comforts in the middle of nature.
Working as a clerk for the Outfitters’ general store, Gilles is confronted by a harsh reality in which Whites are pitted against Natives. He tries to understand, tries to fit in, but only manages to be caught in the middle of two colliding worlds, discovering a colourful cast of characters in the process.
This book is a sometimes-harsh commentary on the realities faced by people who have lost hope.
Cowboy is a novel of northern eccentricity, but it avoids the cute clichs that this can sometimes suggest.
This is Jean Paul Murray's first published literary translation. Previously, he published two translations, Dead-End Democracy?, by Yves Leclerc, and Hello, World!, by Jacques Hebert. Jean Paul Murray lives in Old Chelsea, Quebec, works in the Senate of Canada, and is English translating co-ordinator for the magazine Cite Libre.