Arachnide Editions

The Body of the Beasts

Written by Audrée Wilhelmy • Translated by Christelle Morelli • Translated by Susan Ouriou

Published July 30, 2019 | ISBN 9781487006105
FICTION / Literary

Cover of The Body of the Beasts

Regular price $22.95 CAD

158 pages | 8 in × 5.25 in
Print Format

About this book

The Body of the Beasts

Audrée Wilhelmy • Christelle Morelli • Susan Ouriou

Reminiscent of Gaétan Soucy’s The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Audrée Wilhelmy’s The Body of the Beasts is a startling, gorgeously written novel that tells the story of the Boryas family, who mind a lighthouse and live in isolation until their lives are altered when young Noé arrives in Sitjaq after fifteen years of wandering.

Her dresses are torn, her manners are savage. Noé marries into the family and bears seven children that she leaves to the care of Sevastien-Benedikt, an elder and kind of giant on whose hunting and gathering the family depends. Noé then moves into a cabin on her own and covers the walls with drawings that explain her mysterious life.

The extended family’s curious and enthralling descent into a weirdly carnal, primal existence reaches its disturbing, singular apogee in the revelatory life of twelve-year-old Mie, one of Noé’s daughters, who is able to borrow at will the body of mammals, birds, fish, and insects. Her shape-shifting allows her to know the world, but only to a point. When her awakening body starts to intrigue her, she shamelessly asks her uncle Osip to show her “how humans do sex,” something she has as yet only briefly experienced through the animals whose bodies she has borrowed.

The Body of the Beasts is a tour de force, driven by uninhibited and sensuous writing, a book that explores an aspect of the human condition too often ignored — our animal nature.

About the Creators

Audrée Wilhelmy

AUDRÉE WILHELMY was born in 1985 in Cap Rouge, Quebec and now lives in Montreal. She is the winner of France’s Sade Award, has been a finalist for the Governor-General’s Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the Prix France-Québec and the Quebec Booksellers Award. The Body of the Beasts is her third novel and the first to be translated into English.

Christelle Morelli

CHRISTELLE MORELLI is a literary translator and French immersion teacher. She has translated several works of fiction for publication, including Jane, the Fox and Me and Stolen Sisters. Having lived in Quebec and France, she now makes her home with her family in Western Canada.

Susan Ouriou

Susan Ouriou is an award-winning writer, editor and literary translator with over thirty translations and co-translations of fiction, non-fiction, children’s and young adult literature to her credit. She has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation. She also recently published Nathan, a novel for young readers. Susan lives in Calgary.

Awards and Praise


“A marvel . . . The style is magnificent, the characters unforgettable: Noé, Mie, and Osip are great literary creations. As with all these author’s books, the sensual is omnipresent, and sometimes troubling. The ending is overwhelming, and the chapter on the skinning of a whale is fantastic. Run to buy this book as soon as it arrives at the store!” — Michel Tremblay, Winner of the Governor General's Performing Arts Award

“With a miniaturist’s touch, Audrée Wilhelmy creates a singular universe suffused with sap and silence, at once lush to the limit, smothering and amoral . . . A tour de force of audacity and sensuality achieved unhesitatingly in full-bodied writing that is precise and without misstep. A brilliant novel that explores from on high an aspect of the human condition too often eluded: our own bestiality.” — Le Devoir


Finalist, Prix des lecteurs de l’Hebdo
Finalist, Prix Marie Claire du roman féminin
Finalist, Prix des libraires du Québec
Finalist, Prix France-Québec


Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award
Longlist, Prix des libraires du Québec