We are absolutely delighted that on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, it was announced by the Canada Council for the Arts that If You Hear Me by Pascale Quiviger & translated by Lazer Lederhendler has been shortlisted for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award in Translation!

Each finalist receives $1,000 CAD, and the winner of the award receives $25,000 CAD. In the case of co-creators, the award money is shared. The winners will be announced via press release on June 1, 2021.

The awards, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are given in seven English-language categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people’s literature—text, young people’s literature—illustration, drama and translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories.

The other finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Award in Translation are Amaryllis & Little Witch by Pascal Brullemans & translated by Alexis Diamond (Playwrights Canada Press), Back Roads by Andrée A. Michaud & translated by J. C. Sutcliffe (House of Anansi), The Country Will Bring Us No Peace by Matthieu Simard & translated by Pablo Strauss (Coach House Books), and The Neptune Room by Bertrand Laverdure & translated by Oana Avasilichioaei (Book *hug Press).


Sliding doors open and close automatically, exit to the left, entrance to the right. Beyond it, cars go by, and pedestrians and cyclists. A large park behaves as if nothing has happened. The mirage of a world intact.

In an instant, a life can change forever. After he falls from a scaffold on the construction site where he works, David, deep in a coma, is visited regularly by his wife, Caroline, and their six-year-old son Bertrand. Yet despite their devotion, there seems to be no crossing the divide between consciousness and the mysterious world David now inhabits. Devastated by loss and the reality that their own lives must go on, the mourners face difficult questions. How do we communicate when language fails? When, and how, do we move forward? What constitutes a life, and can there be such a thing as a good death? All the while, David’s inner world unfolds, shifting from sensory perceptions, to memories of loved ones, to nightmare landscapes from his family’s past in WWII Poland.

Elegantly translated by Lazer Lederhendler, If You Hear Me is a gripping account of a woman’s struggle to let go of the husband whose mind is lost to her while his body lives on in the bittersweet present, and a deft rendering of the complexity of grief, asking what it means to be alive and how we learn to accept the unacceptable—while at the same time bearing witness to the enduring power of hope, and the ways we find peace in unexpected places.


Born in Montreal, Pascale Quiviger studied visual arts, earned an M.A. in philosophy and did an apprenticeship in print-making in Rome. She has published four novels, a book of short stories and a book of poems, and has written and illustrated two art books. Her novel The Perfect Circle won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction in French, and, in English translation, was a finalist for the Giller Prize. The Breakwater House was a finalist for the Prix France-Québec, and If You Hear Me was translated into Spanish. A resident of Italy for more than a decade, Pascale Quiviger now lives with her family in Nottingham, England.

Lazer Lederhendler is a full-time literary translator specializing in Québécois fiction and non-fiction. His translations have earned awards and distinctions in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S.A. He has translated the works of noted authors including Gaétan Soucy, Nicolas Dickner, Edem Awumey, Perrine Leblanc, and Catherine Leroux. He lives in Montreal with the visual artist Pierrette Bouchard.

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