“Lazer Lederhendler has presented challenging subject matter with sensitivity, nuance and elegance. His language is powerful yet limpid, understated yet heartbreaking, and lightly humorous. He delicately navigates complex layers of trauma in the immigrant and the patient, lingering between life and death, dream and reality. The finely drawn characters in this novel wait, as we all do, for release.”
—Peer assessment committee: Angela Carr, Jo-Anne Elder, Nigel Spencer
In an instant, a life can change forever. After he falls from a scaffold on the construction site where he works, David, deep in a coma, is visited regularly by his wife, Caroline, and their six-year-old son, Bertrand. Yet despite their devotion, there seems to be no crossing the divide between consciousness and the mysterious world David now inhabits. Devastated by loss and the reality that their own lives must go on, the mourners face difficult questions. How do we communicate when language fails? When, and how, do we move forward? What constitutes a life, and can there be such a thing as a good death? All the while, David’s inner world unfolds, shifting from sensory perceptions, to memories of loved ones, to nightmare landscapes from his family’s past in WWII Poland.
Elegantly translated by Lazer Lederhendler, If You Hear Me is a gripping account of a woman’s struggle to let go of the husband whose mind is lost to her while his body lives on in the bittersweet present and a deft rendering of the complexity of grief, asking what it means to be alive and how we learn to accept the unacceptable—while at the same time bearing witness to the enduring power of hope and the ways we find peace in unexpected places.
Lazer Lederhendler is a full-time literary translator specializing in Québécois fiction and non-fiction. He holds a Master of Arts degree in creative writing from Concordia University. His translations have earned awards and distinctions in Canada, the UK, and the USA, including three Quebec Writer’s Federation Awards (The Immaculate Conception, Nikolski, Apocalypse for Beginners) and two previous Governor General’s Literary Awards (Nikolski, The Party Wall). He has translated the works of noted authors like Gaétan Soucy, Nicolas Dickner, and Catherine Leroux. Lazer Lederhendler lives in Montréal with the visual artist Pierrette Bouchard.
Photo: Monique Dykstra