Governor General's Literary Awards

Le Monde selon Barney

Le Monde selon Barney

Translated by Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné

Les Éditions du Boréal; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia; translation of Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler, published by Knopf Canada

978-2-7646-2503-3

Synopsis

Barney Panofsky is an ebullient man who has always been guided by two beliefs: Life is absurd and humans are unable to truly understand themselves. So why deprive yourself? His life is a series of drunken parties, hockey games, one-night stands, and hopeless loves. From post-war Paris to his native Montréal, where he makes his fortune in film and television, Barney lives intensely and without ever looking back. That is until the day his sworn enemy, a successful writer, publicly accuses him of being an abuser of women, a fake intellectual, and even a murderer. Barney, a senile drunkard, starts writing his memoirs in self-defense. Barney’s Version, a major Canadian literary work, marks both the high point and the final touch to Mordecai Richler’s rich career. The novel, disguised as an autobiography, earned the author a Giller Prize in 1997 before being made into a film in 2010. In it the Montréal author delivers, with more devastating anger and humor than ever, the confessions of a man on the brink of collapse, consumed by resentment and remorse, but driven by a furious desire to live.

"This superb translation re-asserts the significance of Richler’s insolent and brilliant text. The duo’s linguistic originality admirably captures the work’s lively pace, irreverent humour, and tone that constantly vacillates between dark and light, parody and tragedy. A colossal work that fully lives up to the inherent complexity of a great novel."

Peer assessment committee: Christophe Bernard, Rose Després, Geneviève Letarte

Paul Gagne Lori Saint Martin
Photo (Paul Gagné): Allen McEachern, Photo (Lori Saint-Martin): Claire Dufour

Biography

Paul Gagné holds a master’s degree in French literature from Université Laval. After working as a translator in Toronto and Montréal, he now devotes himself to literary translation.

Lori Saint-Martin is a professor of literature at UQAM. She has published three collections of short stories, one novel, and a dozen essays on Quebec literature and women’s studies. She also translates from Spanish to French.

Together, they have translated more than a 100 novels and essays by authors such as Margaret Atwood, Alistair MacLeod, Naomi Klein, Miriam Toews, Louise Penny, and Ann-Marie MacDonald for audiences in Quebec and France. They recently retranslated Mordecai Richler’s greatest novels. They were awarded the John Glassco Prize in 1993, the Cole Foundation Translation Prize in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2016, and the Governor General’s Literary Award for translation in 2000, 2007 and 2015.

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