The Globe and Mail’s Best Books of 2014
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Best Books of 2014
This debut short-story collection by Mireille Silcoff, Chez l’Arabe, opens with a gripping portrait of chronic illness—a series of linked stories about a woman knocked flat in her mid-thirties, trapped in her elegant Montreal townhouse—and in her own mind and body. Struggling to regain her footing, she encounters an increasingly indifferent husband, a volatile mother, and unimaginable depths of loneliness—all of it portending that, even after she recovers, her life will never be the same. As the collection progresses, the thread of a life disturbed runs in new directions: A Montreal socialite remembers her stepmother’s exquisite taste in throwing dinner parties, and her lesser taste in choosing a husband—both of which she seems to have inherited. An abandoned wife catches her glamorous author friend stealing from a widowed billionaire. And a gluttonous woman and her husband, an architect beset with Alzheimer’s, are increasingly boxed out of each other’s lives, just as their daughter boxed them out of hers.
Elegant and vividly detailed, Silcoff’s stories are written as if in one long breath, yet they're propelled by a palpable energy. She brings to mind several celebrated short story writers—Alice Munro, William Trevor, and Jhumpa Lahiri—but writes from entirely fresh terrain.
The audio rights are handled by Anna Stein.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for Chez l’Arabe
Contact Anna Stein for more information
A consistently pleasurable read …. Vividly yet compellingly drawn.
One of the most impressive literary debuts in recent years … It can serve as a textbook on how to make creative use of personal experience without being beholden to it.
These are beautiful stories very much about beauty itself and about the meticulous care Mireille Silcoff's characters take in making their world as beautiful as they can, even as time and fate frustrate their efforts. These stories of Montreal are imbued with wisdom, grace and, often, a great deal of humour[.]
Chez l’Arabe brilliantly depicts a world of largely cloistered lives.
The Globe & Mail
Chez l'Arabe is a deliciously unwholesome mixture of physical disorder and family secrets and sexual obsession and Montreal. Toxically intoxicating.
Silcoff is adept at illuminating the singular truth that can be found in suffering, and in recognizing the redemptive potency of beauty.
Silcoff’s wonderful descriptive observations have, unsurprisingly perhaps, a pensive, unrushed quality…these stories feel generous, expansive.
Silcoff captures the profound insight that comes when life is pared down to what is essential: the fierce and sometimes absurd ephemeral beauty that can bloom unexpectedly, even when one is grappling with physical agony.
Mireille Silcoff’s Chez L’Arabeis an impressive debut short story collection by any measure.
Chez L'arabeis a deliciously unwholesome mixture of physical disorder and family secrets and sexual obsession and Montreal. Toxically intoxicating.
Silcoff’s languid and satirical authorial voice evokes another big Montreal talent, Mordecai Richler ... Her fiction is poignant, hilarious and trenchantly observant about contemporary urban life, both in the detailed depictions of its inanities and its splendours.
Silcoff’s stories remain unruffled, polished and mature, as smart and elegant as the characters they depict.
There is Munro, Gallant, Richler ... And now, such a fresh, startling voice that takes all those in. A fierce talent.