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October 2021 Canadian Fiction

The Strange Scent of Saffron
By (author): Miléna Babin Translated by: Oana Avasilichioaei



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Oct 01, 2021
$20.00 CAD


5in x 8 x 0.5 in | 1 gr

Page Count:

160 pages
Guernica Editions
FICTION / Literary
Narrative theme: Death, grief, loss|Narrative theme: Social issues|Fiction in translation|Quebec: Bas-Saint-Laurent|c 1980 to c 1989|Relating to LGBTQ+ people

Lower Saint-Lawrence, summer 1988. Looking to escape the violent grip of her uncle and twin brother, Nil heads for Le Bic with a half-tamed fox in tow. There, the tough young woman meets Jacob, an HIV-positive restaurant owner mixed up in illegal saffron trafficking. Meanwhile in India, Amar is about to take part in his first harvest of the red gold while his sister Alaka tries to conceal the embarrassment of her first period. The Strange Scent of Saffron is a raw, gut-wrenching novel about the lack and gradual attainment of empowerment, partly through a sensorially-rich connection with the world.

Originally from Carleton-sur-Mer in the Gaspésie, Miléna Babin has lived in Quebec City for the past ten years. In her books, she likes to give life to impulsive and imperfect characters who are often hounded by darkness and suffering, but who find the courage to move toward the light. Exploring the balance between shadow and light is what drives her writing. Her work has been featured in several anthologies, and she has published the novel Les fantômes fument en cachette (Éditions XYZ, 2014) and the children’s book Évelyne, l’enfant-placard (Québec Amérique, 2019). Her second novel, L’étrange odeur du safran (Éditions XYZ, 2018), was shortlisted for the Prix France-Québec 2019. She has also worked as a screenwriter in recent years and is currently adapting L’étrange odeur du safran into a film.

Oana Avasilichioaei is a poet, translator, and sound artist based in Montreal. She has translated many books of poetry and prose from French and Romanian, including Bertrand Laverdure’s Readopolis (Book*hug 2017, Governor General Literary Award) and Catherine Lalonde’s The Faerie Devouring (Book*hug 2018, QWF’s Cole Foundation Prize for Translation).

Once again, her writing shows a refined attention to detail, which she reveals with warmth and sensuality, yet always leaves incomplete, lending mystery to her characters, who are above all marked by the scars of their troubled lives... With a vivid, embodied style, The Strange Scent of Saffron probes the nebula of survival, solidarity, and abuse.

- Le Devoir, Fabien Deglise

With a vibrant, frank style, Miléna Babin’s second novel draws the senses into a story made of blood, odours, and flavours.

- Journal Métro, Benoit Valois-Nadeau

The disconcerting frankness of the writing, the skillful and witty storytelling, and the scathing humour of the dialogues blend to perfection in this novel that is best read on the roof of an old clunker in the company of a tame fox, if possible...

- Les Libraires, Olivier Boisvert

Yet, this novel is not bleak. On the contrary, it’s propelled by an alluring vitality and page-turning inventiveness!

- Journal de Montréal, Josée Boileau

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