Twenty-one Cardinals

Twenty-one Cardinals

Paperback - 2015
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From the author and translator of And the Birds Rained Down, a 2015 CBC Canada Reads selection

Winner of the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for French-to-English Translation

An abandoned mine. A large family driven by honour. And a source of pain, buried deep in the ground.

We're nothing like other families. We are self-made. We are an essence unto ourselves, unique and dissonant, the only members of our species. Livers of humdrum lives who flitted around us got their wings burned. We're not mean, but we can bare our teeth. People didn't hang around when a band of Cardinals made its presence known.

With twenty-one kids, the Cardinal family is a force of nature. And now, after not being in the same room for decades, they're congregating to celebrate their father, a prospector who discovered the zinc mine their now-deserted hometown in northern Quebec was built around. But as the siblings tell the tales of their feral childhood, we discover that Angèle, the only Cardinal with a penchant for happiness, has gone missing - although everyone has pretended not to notice for years. Why the silence? What secrets does the mine hold?

'Rhonda Mullins' translation of Twenty-One Cardinals expertly embodies the multiple voices in Jocelyne Saucier's complex novel. More than inhabiting the world of one writer, Mullins single-handedly performs the roles of an entire cast of characters. As a translator, her virtuosic deftness is in the restrained power of her writing.'

- GG jury citation

Praise for the French edition of Twenty-One Cardinals :

'With its explosive, poignant, funny and tragicstory and memorable characters, Les héritiers de la mine is an important novel ... Through the destiny of this large family, the author talks about Abitibi, where she lives, and of its broken dreams and cheated workers, the blind power of multinationals, the disappearance of villages and families decimated. Her protagonists have the makings of heroes, the stuff to withstand adversity; they may be local heroes, but their fight is universal.'

- Voir (translated from the French)

Publisher: Toronto : Coach House Press, 2015.
Edition: First English edition.
ISBN: 9781552453070
Branch Call Number: FIC Sauci
Characteristics: 169 pages
Additional Contributors: Mullins, Rhonda 1966-


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Mar 24, 2016

While I admit that after the first 90 pages I started to skim read, reading this book was time well spent. The author has created a unique way of unveiling a mystery, one that I myself did not "get" until it was spelled out. I had a pretty good guess, which was only slightly altered as evidence arose, which made for an engaging read. It's nice to feel you have a clue, and then to be shown you were wrong: the book is not too simple, yet not abstract.

I think the strongest thing this book has is the exploration into individual perception.

Oct 14, 2015

Well drawn characters and surprisingly, despite its simplicity and unlikelihood, the plot was very compelling. I enjoyed the book,

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