The Party Wall
By Catherine Leroux, translated by Lazer Lederhendler, Biblioasis, 248 pages, $19.95
Catherine Leroux (born 1979) is of a new generation of Francophone writers who grew up under the influence of American pop culture and whose work is generally more outward-looking than traditional Quebec writing. The Party Wall, Leroux's first novel translated into English, has a continental scope: it touches down in Montreal, Ottawa, Tijuana, San Francisco, rural Saskatchewan and coastal New Brunswick, but arguably its linchpin is Savannah. For much of this book I forgot I was reading a translation at all (interpret that as you will). Initially, The Party Wall reads like a collection of linked stories; past the halfway mark, however, it reveals itself as something more intricate and cumulative. A party wall represents both difference and commonality: It divides two buildings but is shared between them – an apt metaphor for siblingship, the book's theme. A surprising, carefully structured novel that for English readers will bring to mind David Mitchell, this feels much more expansive than its page count.