Written by Alain Farah
Translated by Lazer Lederhendler
Publication Date January 24, 2015
The writer Alain Farah is living in two time periods, and he feels out of place in both. At the opening of his story, we find ourselves at McGill in 1962 and 2012. But the real problem lies elsewhere: on campus, a psychiatrist is conducting dangerous and unethical experiments on his patients. The writer’s uncle, Nab Safi, knows something about it, but soon he won’t around to tell his story.
And so begins an investigation in which time, place, memory, and people collide. A mother in the Lebanese ghetto bets her son in a game of dice to settle her debts. Dinosaurs are resurrected. An odd gun will be used to determine the outcome for those who truly believe. A torn old photo and a gothic swimming pool lead to the disturbing depths of Ravenscrag, a mournful manor with 36 chambers . . .
Ravenscrag is an intriguing and truly original blend of retro science fiction and autobiography. It’s about resilience, literature as remedy, and ultimately, it’s a novel about survival through storytelling.
Alain Farah was born in Montreal in 1979 to Egyptian-Lebanese parents. He published a book of poems, Quelque chose se détache du port, which shortlised for the Prix Émile-Nelligan. He has also published the novels Matamore no 29 and Pourquoi Bologne, a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. He is assistant professor at McGill University, where he teaches contemporary French literature.
Lazer Lederhendler is a Montreal-based translator specializing in contemporary Québécois fiction and nonfiction. His work has earned him distinctions in Canada and abroad, including multiple nominations for the Governor General’s Literary Award, which he won in 2008 for the translation of Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner. He is also the translator of Gaétan Soucy’s novel, The Immaculate Conception, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation, and the winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Prize. Ravenscrag, Lederhendler’s translation of a novel by Alain Farah, was published by Arachnide in April 2015.
"True to its own vision, [Ravenscrag takes] some pleasure in pushing boundaries" Maclean’s Magazine
"Alain Farah’s intriguing novel works not despite its complexities, but because of them." Quill & Quire
"…a page-turner to the very end." Publishers Weekly
"… this is a novel that’s out there on its own. You really should read it." Montreal Gazette
"a useful snapshot of a current of literature being published in Québec at the moment" Quebec Reads
"This swift, Montreal-set fiction splices genres and historical eras with such nerve that it rolled onto best-of-the-year lists everywhere from the Governor General’s Awards to La Presse and Le Devoir when it appeared in its original French in 2013." The Georgia Straight
"[T]hrilling… Ravenscrag gives over with wild abandon to imagination and paranoia as defining traits." The Mookse and the Gripes
"[A] perfectly bizarre novel…I want to read it again." Magnificent Octopus blog