Seven interconnected stories orbit a central novella to create a collection of tales which resonate with the sound of women’s voices.
A widower struggles to erase his wife’s voice from his answering machine. Two old friends meet after a period apart and find they can no longer fit into their habitual rhythm. A woman records herself reading a poem for two sisters who obsessively collect voice recordings.
At the heart of Canoes is “Mustang”, in which a woman moves with her family to the suburbs of Denver, where her partner takes up a research post. As her husband and child fit seamlessly into their new lives, she remains aloof, consumed by a feeling of not belonging, and observing as her loved ones change and adapt to these alien surroundings.
In this moving and deeply poetic collection, Maylis de Kerangal casts light on the balance between life and death, exploring the traces we leave upon each other’s lives and creating space for women of all ages to be heard.
Translated from the French by Jessica Moore