A major voice in Quebec fiction, Suzanne Jacob has twice won the Governor-General's Award, once for fiction, and once for poetry. She is the author of seven novels and three novellas, and has written short fiction, poetry and essays. In 2001, she was inducted to the Academie des lettres du Quebec. She lives in Montreal.
Told from multiple points of view, The Fugitives is the labyrinthine story of four generations of women trying to escape the legacy of their families. The women, and men, of the related dysfunctional Saint-Arnaud and Dumont families are at various stages of rebelling against familial bonds and obligations in order to fulfill their destinies.
Set against a backdrop of family secrets that include rape, rumours of murder, incest, adultery, and false identities, The Fugitives is a highly original contemplation on how families can go bad. Suzanne Jacob’s seventh novel is rendered in an unusual multi-dimensional series of fractal-like episodes that capture the emotional and psychic complexities of kinship. The family here is a ground that can be murderous as one father is accused of molesting a minor, a mother has fainting spells and seems to go crazy, a sister fakes her death, another sister wants to be a boy and contemplates poisoning her family, a great-grandmother has a lesbian affair, and each relative has his or her own version of the truth. Carried forward with the use of various interior monologues, a veritable tornado of lies and secrets is unleashed that cuts through the four generations. In the background are the seductive couple Francois and Catherine Piano who in their own pernicious way have set this storm in motion.
The Fugitives evokes the mysterious, often cruel, ways that knowledge is passed down from parents to children. Most important, the novel shows us how the sins of the mothers and fathers that plague the generations can be released. The Fugitives is a breathtaking literary masterpiece of family drama.
Sheila Fischman has translated into English over one hundred works by major Quebecois authors, among them Roch Carrier, Gaetan Soucy, Anne Hebert, Marie-Claire Blais, Yves Beauchemin and Michel Tremblay. Winner of many awards, she has been nominated on numerous occasions for the Governor-General's Literary Award for Translation and won it in 1998. Sheila Fischman is a Member of the Order of Canada. She lives in Montreal.