An astonishing novel of epic ambition, Vandal Love—winner of the prestigious Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best first book in 2007—follows generations of a unique French-Canadian family across North America and through the twentieth century.
A family curse—a genetic trick resulting from centuries of hardship—causes the Hervé children to be born either giants or runts. Book One follows the giants’ line, exploring Jude Hervé’s career as a boxer in Georgia and Louisiana in the 1960s, his escape from that brutal life alone with his baby daughter Isa, and her eventual decision to enter into a strange, chaste marriage with a much older man. Book Two traces a different kind of life entirely, as the runts of the family discover that their power lies in a kind of unifying love. François seeks the identity of his missing father for years, while his own son, Harvey, flees from modern society into spiritual quests. But none of the Hervés can abandon their longing for a place where they might find others like themselves.
In assured and mystically powerful prose, Deni Y. Béchard tells a wide-ranging, spellbinding story of a family trying to create an identity in an unwelcoming landscape. Imbued throughout with a deep sensitivity to the physical world, Vandal Love is a breathtaking literary debut about the power of love to create and destroy—in our lives, and in our history.
In this moving and entertaining debut, the Herv family suffers from a genetic quirk or divine malady that results in their children growing into towering brutes or sickly runts. In mid-20th century Quebec, the hard drinking patriarch Herv Herv reduces his family by lending or simply giving away the runts, while keeping the giants for labor. Set both in Canada and several American states, from Maine to New Mexico, and spanning more than half a century, the novel divides itself between the isolated introspective pugilist giant Jude, and Fran ois, a sociable, religious runt. Though the two Herv brothers are very different in appearance, they both feel the need to strike out alone, creating their own families and identities in transcontinental voyages. This is both a road novel and a voyage through time, with each of the book's two parts covering the lifetimes of several family members in an examination of the Herv lineage. Ruminations abound on sex, violence, and the bonds between people. Though B chard (Cures for Hunger, a memoir) has a journalism background, this fiction debut, unfolding in punchy prose, recalls M rquez with a French-Canadian twist.