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Mai at the Predators' Ball

Written by Marie-Claire Blais

Translated by Nigel Spencer

  • 256 Pages
  • 9781770890053
  • 8" x 5.25"
  • FICTION / Literary
  • FICTION / Visionary & Metaphysical



Publication Date June 09, 2012

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award: Translation. Shortlisted for the Cole Foundation Prize for Translation.

Literary legend and four-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award Marie-Claire Blais delivers the latest installment in her ongoing portrait of life in contemporary North America.

In this swirling fresco, we meet unforgettable characters, some familiar from previous works, some new. This time, Blais lets us into the consciousness of fifteen-year-old Mai, an unusually perceptive young woman whose uncensored observations on femininity and youth, freedom and constraint belie her age. And, in the Porte du Baiser Saloon, we meet a group of boys who adorn themselves in colourful dresses and wigs before they take to the stage to sing and dance every evening after darkness falls. They open their arms to those who are excluded -- both men and women, triumphant and threatened, both free and bound.

With this astonishing new novel, Blais gives us a remarkable chronicle of our modern age teeming with characters who seem to represent the whole of humanity. She invites us to share the drama of perfect joy, the tragedy of happiness, and she gives us her best work yet.

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award: Translation 2012

Short-listed for the Cole Foundation Prize for Translation 2013


Marie-Claire Blais
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
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.


"... [a]hallucinatory and poetic story, ripe for underlining and rereading ... Mai at the Predator’s Ball will reward you." Globe and Mail

"Spencer admirably captures what one might call the 'breath' of Blais’ prose, although this is a somewhat misleading term, since, unlike the oral style of Joyce’s paradigmatic Finnegans Wake, Blais’ narration, exploiting the French tradition of the segmented sentence, is very much a written form. This difference in language and literary tradition presents the translator with a serious challenge, which Spencer has met with wonderful skill." Cole Foundation Prize for Translation