Searing and lyrical, Marie-Sissi Labrèche’s auto-fictional novel, Borderline, describes a young girl’s experience growing up in Montreal’s working-class neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Raised by her “two mothers” — a stern grandmother and a mother struggling with schizophrenia, the story’s protagonist, Sissi, is artistic, feral, fragile, insightful, and wild. The novel flicks between the traumas of Sissi’s young childhood and early adulthood, spinning a web of connections between her history and the stories she begins to unspool as she studies writing in school. Raw, violent, and at times absurd, Borderline treats all things — the city, class, education, mental health, despair, sexuality, love, and art, with an unflinching, unblinking regard.
Translated from the French by Melissa Bull.
PRAISE FOR BORDERLINE:
“As a kid, I feared I’d come home from school one day and find a member of my family dead on the floor. Your childhood was Disneyesque? I can’t relate. What I relate to is the narrator’s upbringing in this brilliant novel. Her tightrope walk between sanity and madness. The feeling her skin is on inside out. The scars that remain long after her wounds heal. Borderline shines like a little star guiding me home.”
— Neil Smith, author of Boo
“A perfectly sustained wail of bloodthirst and helplessness. Labrèche shocks and seduces in the same abject, incandescent breath.”
— Paige Cooper, author of Zolitude
Marie-Sissi Labrèche is the author of seven books and her work has also been featured in such publications as Stop, XYZ, Nouvelles fraiches, and in the anthology Folles frues fortes (Éditions Tête première 2019). Borderline, her first novel, was published in 2000 by Éditions Boréal, and has since been translated into German, Russian, Dutch, Greek, and now English. Labrèche co-authored the script for the movie Borderline, adapted from her first two novels (Max Films), which won a Genie, four Jutras, and multiple international film prizes. Her other works include La Brèche (Éditions Boréal, 2002), Montréal, la marge au coeur (Éditions Autrement, 2004), La lune dans un HLM (Éditions Boréal 2006), Psy malgré moi (Éditions de la Courte Échelle, 2009), Amour et autres violences (Éditions Boréal, 2012), and La Vie sur Mars (Éditions Leméac, 2014). She lives in Montreal.