evocative in two languages.
by Andrew Dobrowolskyj
by Alyson Grant
For Concordia writer-in-residence Anne Dandurand, writing is the ultimate
gesture of love.
Theres a lot of solitude and you are condemned to poverty
as a writer, but you do it for the love of someone youll never know
the reader, Dandurand said at an interview in her cozy Concordia
Dandurand got hooked on the intimate relationship between reader and writer
after the publication of her first book 20 years ago. She was waiting
in line at a bank when a woman behind her told her that her book had put
a ray of sun into her life.
I almost fainted and I dont know if I even thanked her, but
suddenly, from there, writing to me was giving something to somebody else,
After that exchange, Dandurand gradually moved away from acting and journalism
to become a full-time fiction writer. She has made good on her commitment
to giving to readers with the publication of several celebrated novels
and collections of short stories. Readers, in turn, have made Dandurand
one of Quebecs most loved and respected French-language authors.
Dandurands work-in-progress may take her out of her French world
for a while, however. Like her hero, Franz Kafka, whose picture she keeps
in her home office, she is now trying her hand at writing in another language.
I think in English every Wednesday when Im here, and even
when Im on my way here in the metro, so I took the opportunity to
start writing in English, she said. Its like being in
a new universe, a new country that Ive never seen.
The works title is Radioscopy of a Few Sorrows, and it promises
some of Dandurands familiar subjects: love and sexuality. But the
writing is also highly experimental.
I asked myself how can we now write a love story that is not sentimental
but can show all the kinds of love that can be, Dandurand said.
We see love everywhere in an imperialistic way between a man and
a woman, but there can be love between men and between women, so I wanted
a more universal way of looking at love.
Her solution is to have the main character talking to an S,
leaving gender ambiguous. Ill eventually translate it myself,
but that kind of game is much harder to do in French, Dandurand
English or French, Dandurand writes with passion. I write for life,
and I try to change, if only by a comma, the way society is, she
said. I think that every good writer does that, tries to change
power abuses. A good poem can change your political stance in life.
Dandurands writing, if not overtly political, does draw attention
to lifes less fortunate. Her characters are often the disaffected,
the lonely, the suffering. Im more drawn to the forgotten,
because there are so many, and we never hear from them, she said.
In addition to characters on the page, Dandurand also brings characters
to life through her work as a designer doll artist. She turns special
Barbie-sized dolls into evocative and powerfully life-like creations.
I do everything, change the hair, put on lashes, everything, and
I make the costumes and the décor, she said.
When I do a makeover, it immediately gives a soul to the doll.
One of those dolls sits smoking behind Dandurands computer on her
desk and seems a third presence in the room. Like her writing, the dolls,
with their amazing detail and strong personalities, are clearly a gesture
of Dandurands love. They are also indication of her artistic power
Dandurand brings that experience to her work as writer-in-residence.
For those students who want to meet me, I can be of some help. Im
not like their teacher, I am neutral, she said. Perhaps that
makes me more harsh or more sweet, but I can bring them experience as
Some titles by Anne Dandurand: La marquise ensanglantée, Deathly
Delights (LAssassin de lintérieur/Diables despoir),
The Waiting Room (La Salle dattente), The Cracks (Un Coeur Qui Craque).