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The Obituary

The Obituary

By Gail Scott
Categories: Fiction
Paperback : 9781552452332, 168 pages, October 2010
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781770566583, June 2020
Read Excerpt (PDF)

Shortlisted for the Grand Prix du livre de Montreal

Rosine is surrounded by ghosts. Ghosts of family. Ghosts of past lovers. Ghosts of an old Montreal and its politics. Ghosts of the Montreal quarry workers who, in the 1880s, frequented the Crystal Palace gardens, upon whose ruins her Mile-End triplex sits. Her dead maternal family is there, too, with their restlessness, their stories, their forgotten indigenous ancestry, their little crimes and glories. There’s even the ghost of an ancient Parisian gendarme lurking in the dark stairwell, peering through her keyhole.

Rosine herself may be a ghost, her voice splintered – sometimes a prurient fly buzzing over the action, sometimes a politically correct historian, a woman perpetually travelling on a bus or lying in bed – and so too is our understanding of narrative. In offering up a kaleidoscopic view of Rosine and her city, The Obituary fractures our expectations of what a novel should be ‐ allowing the history of assimilation, so violent in the West and so often sidelined by the French–English conflicts of Montreal, to burble up and infect the very language we use.

Though a mystery, possibly involving murder, The Obituary is less a whodunnit than an investigation of who speaks when we speak.

‘A beautiful, challenging poetic novel that is absolutely stunning.’


‘Even the understatements are compelling … though [Scott] balks at being called experimental, this ain’t your grandmother’s etcetera.’

Globe and Mail

The Obituary pushes narrative into uncharted territory. The text possesses a brilliant essence of time, place and flight that pulls the reader in, holds them close and urges them to read between the lines, the impressions, the moments.’

Matrix Magazine