Élise Turcotte
Guyana
2014

Élise Turcotte's Guyana is a novel set in Montreal, but with the South American country an important motif in the narrative. This 2011 French Canadien novel was translated into English by Rhonda Mullins. Turcotte is an award winning poet and that influence shows in that way in which this novel cleverly weaves together themes of coping with past tragedy. The main tragedy facedby the main character Ana is that her husband died young and her young son Philippe is not coping well with the loss. One of Philippe's symptoms is to be very particular about who cuts his hair and he has grown to love visiting a local hairdresser called Kimi. The second tragedy is that Kimi dies in an apparent suicide, but Ana is not happy and investigates both Kimi's death and increasingly her life. Kimi was from Guyana and bore the burden of an infamous tragedy in the form of Jonestown Massacre.

The novel is partly a mystery, but mostly it is about coping with loss. Ana finds new life in researching Kimi's death and prior life in both Montreal and Guyana. Whether Ana goes to Guyana is a theme of the novel so I will not say if the country named in the title is visited or not. It is a very moving novel about very difficult topics and is a intriguing exploration of human suffering.

© Mercia McMahon. All rights reserved

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