Homage to Jean Genet’s antihero and a brilliant reimagining of the ancient form of tragedy, Querelle of Roberval, winner of the Marquis de Sade Prize, is a wildly imaginative story of justice, passion, and murderous revenge.
When millworkers in Roberval, a northern Quebec logging town, go on strike, the conflict rips the close-knit community apart, and despite the workers’ solidarity, their individual struggles and demands further escalate tensions within the group. They remain united by the desire to escape poverty and exact revenge on their boss, but when Brian Ferland decrees a lockout and awakens in them a buried rage, they rally around the mysterious and magnetic influence of Querelle, a dashingly cosmopolitan newcomer from Montreal. By day, Querelle walks the picket lines with his cohort, but at night he breaks bottles on the beach and settles scores with baseball bats and the town’s privileged young men flock to his apartment for sex. As positions harden and both sides refuse to yield, sand stalls the gears of the economic machine and the tinderbox of class struggle and entitlement ignites in a firestorm of passions carnal and violent.
Praise for Kevin Lambert
“The most savage literary protest of this season … This 27-year-old author has already established his voice through an unusual gesture: driving the sexual question into the hide of the social movement … His outrageous prose is justified by the novel's project: exploiting the liberating potential of the body laid bare, the subversive power of raw pleasure. Here sex becomes a tool of sabotage, it dynamites the orderly linguistic formulas of ideology, love or militant slogans.”
—Le Monde (Paris)
“At the age of 27, this young Canadian author has published a raw, militant ‘syndical fiction.’ A powerful novel in which sociopolitical criticism interrogates desire and questions of gender identity. A multitude of characters gravitate towards the fascinating Querelle, the archetype of the beautiful gay male; all the young men of the region parade through his bed, utterly bewitched.”
“Lambert explodes stereotypes and taboos. I'm always partial to a writer who takes risks, who dares to find beauty in the blemishes of our souls and our desires.”
—Heather O'Neill, Chatelaine
“Querelle of Roberval represents the mature confirmation of Lambert's style, a highly poetic oral language … Lambert's writing is so alive that one reads the novel in a single sitting with the impression of having been run over by a logging truck and a horde of libidinous young men at the same time. You come out over it feeling bruised and thrilled.”
—La Presse (Montreal)
“It's a pleasure to read this novel for its language and the energy it unleashes.”
—Le Devoir (Montreal)
“A simple review can hardly do justice to the richness and depth of this bountiful, powerful and wildly excessive novel, with its feverish, compulsive, but always controlled, writing. “
“A bitter, yet empathetic, social novel.”
—University of Toronto Quarterly