Larry Tremblay is a writer, director, actor, and Kathakali specialist. He is the author of thirty books, including The Orange Grove and two previous novels, The Bicycle Eater and The Obese Christ; one short story collection, Piercing; and numerous volumes of poetry. A three-time finalist for the Governor General’s Award and a finalist for numerous other international prizes, he is also the author of more than twenty plays, including The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi, The Ventriloquist, and War Cantata, which have been translated and produced in more than a dozen languages. Trembaly lives in Montreal.
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Books by Larry Tremblay
Author Q & A
The majority of The Orange Grove is set in an unnamed country. Though your readers may immediately bring their own preconceptions to the book—on my first reading, for instance, I was certain it would be a novel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—you are purposefully vague about where this novel—at least before the narrative moves to Canada—is set. You are also vague about the exact ethnic background of the participants. Can you explain briefly why you took this approach?
If I had written this novel in a more realistic manner, set in a very specific time and space, focusing on a specific country or conflict, the reader would have been tempted to take a Manicheanistic view: these people are good, these people are bad, these are right, those are wrong. This is not what I wanted to achieve. I wanted, rather, the reader to focus and think about the causes of war and hatred and ethnic violence in a more general way. Specificity would have gotten in the way. What I am talking about is unfortunately much more universal. [Read more at Québec Reads]
A lot of fiction coming out of French Québec grapples in an overt way with political subjects, set on a world stage, in a fashion that rarely happens in English Canada. Do you have any thoughts on why this is the case?
Twenty years ago, Québec writers were more concerned with relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada. But now, many of us have put this aside, and are more concerned with exploring the relationship between Quebec and the rest of the world. It’s impossible not to be concerned by what happens in other countries. Everything is so much more interconnected than it was even a couple of decades ago. It’s natural that our fiction reflects this. [Read more at Québec Reads]
Your novel has already been incredibly successful. It has sold close to 25,000 copies in Quebec since its release in October 2013; it’s already won eight prizes, including the prestigious Quebec Booksellers’ Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and has been nominated for three other Canadian and international prizes. And over the last year the book has been translated into at least six languages—including English, Dutch, German, Spanish, Hebrew, and Chinese—and eight territories. What accounts for this book’s success? What are people responding to?
It’s hard to say. It is a universal story told simply, allegorically, an emotionally immediate and important subject. It’s hopeful, the response to this book: it shows that people still care, that we have not become totally indifferent to the plight of others. I’m thankful for this. [Read more at Québec Reads]