Capturing the emblematic ennui of a brooding Montréalaise, a millennial novel by one of Quebec’s brightest young feminists.
Montreal is in the grips of one of its summer heat waves, when searing temperatures have a way of making its residents cast aside their better judgment. A young twenty-something works the night shift at a call center, her only company the disembodied voices of the customers who call in to complain. She spends her night off drinking with her friend Louis at “their” bar, while her successful boyfriend sleeps. His career allows her the pleasures of his spacious, modern condo, a new existence. She likes feeling undefined, still up for grabs, even as the middle-class trappings of her relationship threaten to shape her.
In the stifling humidity of such surroundings, her life is turned upside down when she grows obsessed with Mia, a beautiful woman she meets one night at the bar. Then there’s the woman who’s gone missing, whose face is constantly on screens across the city. How can she stem the drift away from her relationship, she worries, when her former lover B., who was both violent and magnetic, is always in her thoughts?
All these orbits are set to collide, as the heat wave shows no sign of breaking and emotions reach record highs.
David Homel’s eighth novel is an exquisitely written, brutally honest, brave work from a two-time Governor General Award winner at the peak of his powers.
Phil Brenner has fallen into a slump. All of his life’s achievements have somehow crept into disarray. As a freelance journalist, his career pinnacles keep receding in the rearview, as he struggles to stay relevant in a culture that prizes identity over experience. He feels unfairly cast aside by younger generations, designated the very “white male of privilege” he spent much of his youth rallying against. As a husband, he’s estranged from his wife, whose job supports the suburban lifestyle he never wanted. As a father, his two daughters repel any attempt he makes to connect.
But when a chance arises to cover the refugee crisis in Eastern Europe, Phil seizes the opportunity to reinvent himself into the person he could be, if only he can bring himself to tear down the tired notions of who he has become.
"Sparely and beautifully written, The Deserters is a story not of escape but of the deep, human need to belong to a place, and to one another." —Helen Humphreys
"Here is the fallout of war, the logic of betrayal, told with grace, elegance, and an unflinching gaze.” —Tamas Dobozy
"In The Deserters, her beautiful and understated debut novel about those who love, those who fight, and those who leave, Pamela Mulloy makes connections between characters, continents and centuries and creates a constellation." —Kerry Clare