Governor General's Literary Awards

Avant l’après : Voyages à Cuba avec George Orwell

Avant l’après : voyages à Cuba avec George Orwell

By Frédérick Lavoie

La Peuplade; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia



See Cuba before it changes—before the “after.” On this Caribbean island, the present always seems to be looking toward the future. Thanks to better relations with the United States and the announcement of the end of the Castro era, the country is “in transition.” In February 2016 a state-owned publishing house launches a new translation of George Orwell’s 1984. Curious, Frédérick Lavoie tries to find out who authorized the publication. He visits Cuba three times over the space of a year, seeking not to predict the island’s future, but to capture its present for a future use. Orwell is the ideal travel companion to guide the writer through the regime’s complex machinery. In this edifying journey, he travels throughout Cuba, gathering discreet confessions from its inhabitants to reveal a country suspended between two eras.

"Deeply personal writing, original ideas, issues in civilization. Frédérick Lavoie’s work of non-fiction readily handles the tension between these three aspects to delve into the mechanisms of Cuban totalitarianism. Using the new Cuban edition of George Orwell’s 1984 as a pretext and connecting theme, Lavoie deftly shows how the work is still significant and relevant by exploring the everyday life of a population living in a time of censorship."

Peer assessment committee: Ralph Elawani, Lucie Hotte, Jean-Jacques Pelletier

Frederick Lavoie
Photo: Sophie Gagnon-Bergeron


Born in Chicoutimi in 1983, Frédérick Lavoie is a writer and freelance journalist. With Avant l’après: voyages à Cuba avec George Orwell he continues his investigation of the many faces of humanity in troubled times. A multilingual globetrotter, the author has lived in Moscow, Bombay, and Chicago. In 2013, the Salon du livre du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean awarded him its Récit prize as well as the Découverte prize for his first book, Allers simples : aventures journalistiques en Post-Soviétie. His second book, Ukraine à fragmentation, was a finalist for the 2017 Prix des libraires and won the Salon du livre du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Récit prize in 2016. He will be in Quebec in winter 2018 to promote his book. Last August, with his younger brother Jasmin, he published Frères amis, frères ennemis: correspondances entre l’Inde et le Pakistan.

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