Biblioasis is thrilled to share that this morning on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, it was announced by the Canada Council for the Arts that If You Hear Me by Pascale Quiviger & translated by Lazer Lederhendler (March 3, 2020) has won the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award in Translation! As the winning translator, Lazer Lederhendler is awarded $25,000 CAD. All finalists received $1,000 CAD. This is Lazer Lederhendler’s third time winning the Governor General’s Literary Award in Translation. He previously won for The Party Wall in 2016 (Biblioasis) and Nikolski in 2008 (Knopf Canada).

In a statement, publisher Dan Wells said, “All of us at Biblioasis are very happy that Lazer Lederhendler’s translation of Pascale Quiviger’s If You Hear Me has won the Governor General’s Award for Translation. Lazer has long been one of the very best translators in the country, as this, his sixth nomination and third win for the Governor General’s Award attest: it’s been an honour and joy to work with him on If You Hear Me, and we thank the jury for their support and acknowledgement of his incredible work.”

If You Hear Me was chosen as the winner by a peer assessment committee that included Angela Carr, Jo-Anne Elder, and Nigel Spencer. Here’s what they had to say in praise of the book:

“Lazer Lederhendler has presented challenging subject matter with sensitivity, nuance and elegance. His language is powerful yet limpid, understated yet heartbreaking, and lightly humorous. He delicately navigates complex layers of trauma in the immigrant and the patient, lingering between life and death, dream and reality. The finely drawn characters in this novel wait, as we all do, for release.”

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 were 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).

To celebrate the win, Biblioasis is hosting a virtual event on Saturday, June 26, 2021 at 2 PM EDT with both Pascale Quiviger and Lazer Lederhendler. There will be a discussion, a Q&A, and a book giveaway! Stay tuned for more details.


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.


Get your copy of If You Hear Me now from Biblioasis!