Remnants is an exploration of our relationships with family and perception, told through a profound investigation of a father’s life and sudden death. With various voices and hybrid forms—including dialogues, questionnaires, photographs, and dream documentation—Huyghebaert builds a fragmented picture of a father-daughter relationship that has been shaped by silences and missed opportunities.
The reader attempts to untangle fact from fiction: multiple versions of Huyghebaert’s father are presented while remnants of his life disappear achingly quickly. What is left of someone who was not important enough to be archived? How do we talk about what no longer exists?
Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for French-language fiction, Remnants asks essential questions we often only peer at from the corner of an eye; questions about the value of life in its duration and passing. This is a transcendent work, ideal for readers of Annie Ernaux, Sophie Calle, and Maggie Nelson.
Judge’s Citation for the 2022 VMI Betsy Warland Between Genres Award:
“Memoir, auto-fiction, documentary, dream—Céline Huyghebaert’s Le drap blanc, ably translated in English as Remnants by Aleshia Jensen, is all these and more—an original, probing, and deeply moving attempt to come to terms with the death of a parent and a family fractured by poverty, alcohol, and loss. Through overlapping and sometimes contradictory accounts, an image of the father emerges for writer and reader alike—one that can never be fixed and absolute but must always remain mutable, blurred, and incomplete.” —Susan Olding
Praise for Remnants:
“Remnants is a mausoleum… built from fragments and miscellaneous moments. Words and actions that could have been different, smells, dreams and daydreams; retellings and family dialogues recounted as though in shadow play—she has collected it all here… Céline Huyghebaert brings us a book that leaves a striking, lasting impression.” —Xavier Houssin, Le Monde des Livres (Le Monde, France)
“Utilizing a wide array of strategies both literary and personal, Céline Huyghebaert’s Remnants (here translated beautifully by Aleshia Jensen) delves into deeply human questions—what it means to be both a father and a daughter, the many ways the past is always with us, and how the ache of being continuously haunted by our own complex histories makes us fuller—with an inventiveness of new methods for both confronting and understanding them.” —Jacob Wren, author of Rich and Poor
66 works of Canadian fiction to watch for in spring 2022 —CBC Books
2022 Spring Preview: Fiction —Quill and Quire
Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2022 Fiction Preview —49th Shelf
Read an Excerpt from Céline Huyghebaert’s Extraordinary Novel, Remnants —Open Book
“Remnants triumphs as a novel-length’s pause on sadness, an archival record of silences, missed opportunities, grief — it is an inventive, intelligent, loving assemblage that unleashes the possibilities and potential of an archived life.” —Sara Harms, Winnipeg Free Press
“Huyghebaert is a multidisciplinary artist who fuses visual art and literature, and Remnants is a beautiful example of her art. The novel works as a sort of collage, with questionnaires, photos and documents, interviews, and short stories arranged in no specific order.” —Billie Gagné-LeBel, Montreal Review of Books
45 cool books to read while the weather heats up —CBC Books
Craving CanLit 2022 —Scotiabank Giller Prize
A Reading List for Women in Translation Month 2022 —CLMP
“The prose in this singular, layered work—exploring life, death, loss, love, family, memory, connection, and meaning—flows flawlessly .” —Veena Gokhale, Herizons
“Céline Huyghebaert’s latest work, translated by Aleshia Jensen, explores the gap left by the death of her father. Remnants is filled with fragmented aspects of her father that she did not collect before his early passing . . . This work is an examination of memory’s function in our lives.” —Clayton Tomlinson, Broken Pencil
Interview with Céline Huyghebaert and Aleshia Jensen —Vancouver Manuscript Intensive
Céline Huyghebaert is an artist and a writer. Her work, at the intersection of visual arts, language and literature, has been exhibited in France and Canada. In 2019, she won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French-language Fiction for her first novel, Le drap blanc, published by Le Quartanier, and she was awarded the Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art. Born in France in 1978, she has been living in Montréal since 2002.
Aleshia Jensen is a French-to-English literary translator and former bookseller living in Tio’tia:ke/Montréal. Her translations include Explosions by Mathieu Poulin, a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation; Prague by Maude Veilleux, co-translated with Aimee Wall; as well as numerous graphic novels, including work by Julie Delporte, Catherine Ocelot, Mirion Malle, and Pascal Girard.