British Journal of Canadian Studies

Québec’s new regional fiction: Louise Penny and Johanne Seymour

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2021), 33, (2), 225–240.

Abstract

Louise Penny’s Still Life (2005) and Johanne Seymour’s Le Cri du cerf (2005) are both murder mysteries set in the Eastern Townships, in south-eastern and south-central Québec. Much of the region borders the United States. To varying degrees, the border makes its presence felt in the novels by Penny and Seymour, along with other landmarks familiar to domestic audiences. This article argues that the apparent situatedness of the texts is, however, challenged by their adherence to the formal conventions of the murder mystery and associated subgenres. In so doing, it claims that Still Life and Le Cri du cerf foster multi-layered readings which, in bringing together the hyper-local and the international, prompt a reconsideration of understandings of regional fiction.

L’action des romans policiers, Still Life (2005) de Louise Penny et Le Cri du cerf (2005) de Johanne Seymour se situe dans les Cantons-de-l’Est, dans le sud-est et le sud-central du Québec. Une grande partie de la région borde les États-Unis. La présence de la frontière se fait sentir dans les deux romans, ainsi que d’autres points de repère bien connus du lectorat québécois. Cet article propose que cet ancrage apparent dans le régional se trouve contesté par l’adhérence de ces textes aux conventions formelles du roman policier et ses sous-genres. Still Life et Le Cri du cerf inviteraient ainsi à des lectures aux niveaux multiples mettant en dialogue l’hyperlocal et l’international et provoquant du même coup une remise en question des conceptions de la fiction régionale.

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Morgan, Ceri