The Canada Reads blurb for the book:
“The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant is a colourful, loving portrait of life in a Montreal neighbourhood, explored through an enchanting chorus of voices.
One by one, the characters inhabiting the cramped apartments on la rue Fabre emerge: Albertine, sister-in-law of the fat woman of the book’s title, who dreams of a more glamorous life; Marie-Sylvia, who runs the Arc-en-ciel restaurant across the street; Béatrice and Mercedes, two ‘chippies’ who ply their trade under the disapproving gaze of prudish neighbours; Duplessis, Marie-Sylvia’s fickle and always ravenous cat; and a number of pregnant women, who struggle to make ends meet while their men are either unemployed or away at war.
Their stories are relayed in the breezy, comic tones of the gossip the women exchange on the no. 52 Mont-Royal streetcar. Deftly translated into English by Sheila Fischman, Tremblay’s depiction of his childhood neighbourhood is fond but never sentimental. He describes the poverty in matter-of-fact detail and his dialogue is true to the district’s frank, expressive language.
Tremblay allows each of his characters to shine, and fashions a novel that hums with the hustle and bustle of everyday life in a big city.
Published in 1978 as La grosse femme d’à côté est enceinte, the novel was published in English translation by Talonbooks in 1981.”
Other useful links:
the Canada Reads page for The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant
Before – I’m very optimistic about this one. My mother was born in Montreal in November of 1942, so the “fat woman” of the title might just as well be my grandmother (of course I know that she’s Tremblay’s mother but you know what I mean).
During (30.01.09) – I’m enjoying this so far, despite my general aversion to the paragraphless style. I’m about halfway through and I have a bad feeling that something awful is going to happen to Duplessis (who reminded me immediately of Mottyl, the cat from Not Wanted on the Voyage). Twice so far I’ve wanted to rap Sheila Fischman on the knuckles for saying “should of” instead of “should have”. Aaaack!
After – Loved this book. It seemed so effortless but was in fact extremely complex and multilayered. I really got used to the “megaparagraphs” and came to like the style by the end of the book. So far, it’s my pick to win.