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Rhapsody in Quebec
Rhapsody in Quebec

Rhapsody in Quebec

On the Path of an Immigrant Child

By Akos Verboczy, Translated by Casey Roberts, Foreword by Toula Drimonis

BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

246 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper, Mobipocket, PDF, EPUB

Trade Paper, $19.95 (US $19.95) (CA $19.95)

Publication Date: May 2017

ISBN 9781771861021

Rights: WOR X CA

Baraka Books (May 2017)

eBook

eBook Editions Available

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Overview

Born in Hungary in 1975, Akos Verboczy moved to Montreal at the age of 11 with his sister and mother, an esthetician, who learned that in Canada women were willing to pay a fortune ($20) to have their leg hair brutally ripped out. His story begins in Hungary, where at the age of nine he learned that he was a Jew too—"half-Jew" to be more accurate. Unlike some who emigrated from Eastern Europe, Verboczy has no particularly beefs about life "behind the iron curtain." He lands in Montreal as James Brown's Living in America plays and Rocky knocks the Russian communist boxer flat in Rocky IV. The good guys he had learned to like were now officially the bad guys. Once in "America" he discovers that he will be going to French school—after all it is Québec—, but then he learns that Canada is the only "place on the planet where there's no prestige in speaking French." In fifty vignettes and tales that belie all the clichés about immigration to Québec, he depicts the experience of embracing a culture and a people who are constantly obliged to reaffirm their right to exist. A keen young fencer, he identifies with Alexander Dumas's d'Artagnan, the outsider who insists that his "heart is musketeer" though his dress is not. At a time when identity politics are at the fore, Verboczy's observations are both enlightening and witty, comforting and yet challenging, and humorous. He does not hesitate to discuss thorny political issues such as language laws, anti-Semitism, multiculturalism, values, Québec sovereignty and more. Rhapsody in Quebec is an important contribution to public debate wherever immigration is an issue, be it Quebec, Canada, United States or elsewhere.

Reviews

"A delicious self-portrait brimming with humor, political acumen, and pithy observations." —Le Devoir, Montreal

"The book is sophisticated and very accessible, awash with culture and cultural references, some familiar and low-brow . . . The author has a knack for turning a situation on its head, helping readers consider an issue from a new perspective . . . . an astute and witty contribution." —Peter McCambridge, Quebec Reads

"This intelligent, funny, often ironic, and sometimes frustrating book will interest readers who want a sharp view of identity and language politics in Canada." —Publishers Weekly

Author Biography

Casey Roberts is a literary translator living in Montreal. He has translated several fiction and nonfiction books and won the John Glassco Prize awarded by the Canadian Literary Translators Association for his translation of the YA novel Break Away, Jessie on My Mind. Akos Verbczy was born in Hungary and arrived in Quebec in 1986 at the age of eleven. As a political science student at the Université du Québec à Montréal, he became active in politics. For several years he worked in grassroots organizations aimed at involving young people involved in public and democratic activities. Elected as school commissioner at the Commission scolaire de Montréal, the city's largest school board, he chaired the intercultural relations committee for nine years. In 2011 and 2012, he wrote a weekly column in the daily Métro newspaper dealing with cultural issues on identity and diversity. Between 2012 and 2014, he was political attaché to Québec's Minister responsible for Immigration and Cultural Communities and application of the French Language Charter. His book Rhapsodie québécoise, Itinéraire d'un enfant de la loi 101 was published in January 2016 and has since been regularly on Quebec's bestseller lists.