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Charles Quimper

Une odeur d’avalanche

162 pages | Septembre 2021

St. Sauveur, a neighborhood in the lower part of Quebec City, has seen its share of disasters: earthquakes, floods, frogs raining from the sky. Known for its fervor, camaraderie, and solidarity, this working-class enclave was once even visited by the Virgin Mary herself. One day, however, residents and objects begin to vanish without warning, and though they sometimes reappear, they never come back unchanged.

It’s here that Jacob and Pénélope meet. In the late seventies, these two forlorn teenagers discover a mutual love for breaking the speed limit and drinking crème de menthe. As they navigate life with all its wonders and sorrows, the pair must also contend with a dog who spontaneously combusts, a stepfather who’s lost his backbone, and a recluse who communicates with Morse code.

Fifty years later, a cowboy arrives back in town and, at a local bar, encounters a lady in a green velvet dress. After one dance, it’s like they’ve known each other forever. But their love is soon tested by illness. Under the watchful eyes of some rare birds, the two older lovers live out their final days together as intensely as they can. As their story unfolds, links emerge between them and the two teenagers, revealing the miracle of second chances.

Reminiscent of Michel Tremblay’s beloved novels set on the Plateau in Montreal, Une odeur d’avalanche depicts the dizzying highs and agonizing lows of a tight-knit community, while fully embracing the magic realism made famous by Latin American literature.

Finaliste - Prix des Horizons imaginaires 2022


Le Soleil

‘A poetic, delicate and apt portrayal of the St. Sauveur borough, celebrating the resilience of its inhabitants.’

La Presse

‘A novel filled with warmth […], a feel-good magic trick full of humanity. ’

Photo Charles Quimper Crédit photo Antoine Tanguay


Charles Quimper

Born in Quebec City in 1977, Charles Quimper is a former bookseller and has contributed to a number of magazines. Les Libraires magazine recognized the “tenderness, infinite sadness, and absolute beauty” of his debut novel, while Le Devoir hailed “a new literary voice of remarkable density.

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