Translated by Pablo Strauss
Review by E. Kirshe
The Country Will Bring Us No Peace is a strange and eerie book about grief; not overcoming it, but being overtaken by it. Grief haunts the mean and dying streets of the country town our city-born protagonists move to, a move which they hoped would bring them past their own private tragedy, the grief of which is slowly taking them down as well.
The story switches back and forth, abruptly, between the husband and wife narrators Simon and Marie. We get an internal monologue from each of them either giving new information or sometimes their thoughts on the same event. The way it’s written with them switching between being in and out of sync was just one example of how this is a uniquely told tale.
The story gets more surreal as it goes on, as well as darker. It starts with merely stark narration.
“Forty years from now, no one will remember this kiss, or this night, or this bar and the infinite emptiness that fills it. Or our house. Or here.” before it gets outright trippy.
The hostility from the locals was always creepy and over-the-top, but as we learn more about the town’s past along with details about the narrators, we also lose whatever normalcy there was. Here, I’ll shout out to translator Pablo Strauss for capturing the cold and pretty language used throughout the book and keeping that tone even.
This slim and beautifully written novel will not be for everyone as it is quite bleak. As the title may have hinted the country does not, in fact, bring the husband and wife peace. Moving through the story everything only gets darker and weirder- which is why I made it to the end. Without the surreal hook and the well-paced narration giving out just enough information that I wanted to know more- I might have given up on this book though that’s simply due to personal taste. Because, while there is a lot of emotion in this work, none of it is happiness.
However, Simard created a cold and quiet tapestry that’s easy to get involved and feel something in.
The Country Will Bring Us No Peace is available now from Coach House Books