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The Black Notebook by Michel Tremblay , Translated by Sheila Fischman


In the heart of the Latin Quarter, meeting place of marginal characters of all sorts, Céline Poulin works the night shift at a cheap and popular restaurant, Le Sélect, serving hamburger platters and spaghetti and meatballs to student misfits, transvestites, hookers and queens from the Main—Montreal’s disreputable Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Hanging out with a theatre company in her off hours, Céline sees opening before her a world where it is not only possible, but even desirable to pretend. When the director offers her a role in The Trojan Women, the die is cast.

The Black Notebook is Céline’s diary, her account of her trials and tribulations, her expectations and her cruel disappointments, because this young waitress at the Sélect has her own dramatic story to tell, even if only to herself: Céline is a midget.

From the theatre of Euripides to the theatre of Montreal’s Main, Michel Tremblay—our Balzac—creates and gives voice to some astonishing new characters in this first of a new series of novels. For the characters of The Black Notebook, the first in this trilogy, life is a comedy that barely conceals the cruel and pitiless tragedy of the everyday. With a transcendent eloquence and compassion, Michel Tremblay celebrates how it is possible for Céline to embrace her difference and to flourish—despite that difference, or perhaps, because of it.

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English, translated from French