About this book
Thunder and Light
Marie-Claire Blais • Nigel Spencer
Originally published in 2001, Thunder and Light is the second volume in Marie-Claire Blais’s prize-winning Soifs series, hailed as one of the greatest undertakings in modern Quebec fiction. Powered by its characters’ gripping exploration of the world’s dark corners, the novel is a teeming microcosm in which boundaries collapse and the extremes and contradictions that animate our times are reconciled.
Blais locks us directly into the consciousness of her characters, many of whom we met in her previous novel, These Festive Nights, and many that she derives from actual news stories: Jessica, a seven-year-old attempting to beat the world record as the youngest pilot to cross the continent; Nathanaël, a teenager on death row for killing his favourite teacher; Our Lady of the Bags, a modern-day Joan of Arc who lives among Manhattan’s skyscrapers and follows the voices in her head; and Caroline and Jean-Mathieu, aging artists who are fighting to come together again. One character’s thoughts or actions have consequences for another 3,000 miles away who is a complete stranger to the first.
This is an intricate house of cards, delicately but expertly constructed, that shocks us in its perversity and familiarity, ultimately finding hope and redemption in the most human and basic forms of art.
About the Creators
Marie-Claire Blais is the internationally revered author of more than twenty-five books, many of which have been published around the world. In addition to the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, which she has won four times, Blais has been awarded the Gilles-Corbeil Prize, the Médicis Prize, the Molson Prize, and Guggenheim Fellowships. She divides her time between Quebec and Florida.
Nigel Spencer has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation with three novels by Marie-Claire Blais: Thunder and Light, Augustino and the Choir of Destruction, and Mai at the Predators’ Ball, which was also a finalist for the QWF Cole Foundation Prize for Translation. He has translated numerous other works and films by and about Marie-Claire Blais, Poet Laureate Pauline Michel, Evelyn de la Chenelière, and others. He is also a film-subtitler, editor, and actor now living in Montreal.
Awards and Praise
PRAISE FOR THUNDER AND LIGHT:
“Blais is a writer attuned — there should be a stronger word — to our times . . . Readers will be stunned and startled by Blais’ prose. Her characters, each an international mix of intellect, passion, and problems, are constructed with wisdom and compassion.” — Quill & Quire, STARRED REVIEW
“The inconsolable vision of the human condition expresses itself in powerful poetic prose, with a sort of multi-voice delirium that becomes an incantation, a prayer almost, and that attains hallucinatory dramatic density . . . We are with a writer at the far reaches of language, in the dazzling fracas of beauty.” — La Presse, FIVE-STAR REVIEW
PRAISE FOR MARIE-CLAIRE BLAIS AND THE ACACIA GARDENS:
“Without a doubt Blais is the greatest living Quebec writer at present, she will certainly leave an incredible and inexhaustible legacy for scholars of her work.” — La Presse
“A magnificent song of pain, full and hypnotic.”— Nightlife.ca
“Life throbs on every page of this breathtaking work and stirs us, dazzles us, and lulls us.” — TVA/Salut Bonjour
“Marie-Claire Blais is our Marcel Proust!” — TVA/Salut Bonjour
PRAISE FOR NOTHING FOR YOU HERE, YOUNG MAN:
WINNER, GRAND PRIX DU LIVRE DE MONTRÉAL
“Resilience and memory are at the heart of this ‘saga’ where voices intermingle . . . driven by powerful prose.” — Huffington Post
“The powerful, lyrical, and unclassifiable prose of this great writer will not leave you untouched.” — La Librarie
“One of the strongest books [in the series]. Every time, every book is an experience in itself.”— Montreal Gazette
“A powerful novel. Dense and charged.” — Voir
“Long spiralling sentences are carried by a grandiose prose.” — Chatelaine
PRAISE FOR MAI AT THE PREDATORS’ BALL:
WINNER, GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD FOR TRANSLATION
“A rare work . . . At the end of [Mai at the Predators’ Ball], you feel you’ve been to a strange and passionate place. You feel as if the modern world has rushed in like a stiff cool breeze, refreshing yet also unsettling.” — Le Devoir
“An extraordinary novel. A majestic fresco of unwavering power, showcasing the author’s vision of humankind . . . lucid, potent, compassionate, and full of tenderness for all the women and men who live in this chaotic age of ours.” — Radio-Canada
“Marie-Claire Blais should be classified as a national treasure . . . Another milestone in the work of a masterful writer who loves everything that is beyond the scope close to normal.” — La Presse