Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist

Anvil Press



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In this daring act of self-examination and confession, the late novelist Nelly Arcan explores the tortured end of a love affair. All the wrong signals were there from the start, but still, she could not help falling. More than a portrait of an affair gone wrong, Hysteric is a chronicle of life among the twenty- and thirty-somethings, a life structured by text messages, missed cell phone calls, the latest DJs and Internet porn. When the writer’s aunt read her tarot cards, no predictions for her future ever appeared. This tale, an astounding feat of literary realism, shares the story of a woman who loses her identity in a man in hopes of finding love. Told in the same voice that made her first novel Whore an international success, Nelly Arcan manages to answer the challenges she set down for herself in her previous books.


“unrelenting insights into the still bleeding scars of a badly wounded psyche.”
— Philip Marchand, National Post

Hysteric is a raw stroke of wild love that explores desire and memory, fear and love, a novel that leaves the lights on for its readers, hurts as much as it haunts, and brings a much-needed philosophy to the genre of urban literary fiction.”
—The Georgia Straight

“An absolutely magnificent novel that gets right to the point.”
— Élaine Ayotte, Radio-Canada, “C’est dans l’air”

“Hysteric is a story of love and loss. The author describes the hypnosis of heartbreak with the painful lucidity and honesty we have come to expect from her.”
— Odile Tremblay, Le Devoir

“Nelly Arcan puts our society on trial. She is a talented author with a voice we can count on. Go beyond the scandal and discover her.”
— Éric Simard, Radio-Canada, “Téléjournal-Québec”

“A tremendously strong current runs through this story. A music of breath, and the desire to reach down to the bone and discover the truth about relationships between men and women.”
— Jocelyne Lepage, La Presse

  • Publication: Spring 2014
  • ISBN: 978-1-927380-96-3
  • Pages: 168 pp
  • Size: 5.25 x 8.25 inches

Nelly Arcan was born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Her first novel Putain (2001; Whore, 2004, Grove Press), drawing on her experience working in the sex trade in Montreal, caused a sensation and enjoyed immediate critical and media success. It was a finalist for both the Prix Médicis and the Prix Femina, two of France’s most prestigious literary awards. Two more novels followed, establishing her as a literary star in Quebec and France: Folle (2004), also nominated for the Prix Femina; and À ciel ouvert (2007). She is also the author of an illustrated book on the beauty myth for young girls: L’enfant dans le miroir (2007).

Paradis, clef en main (Exit) was her fourth novel and was completed just days before she committed suicide in 2009 at the age of thirty-six.

Books by Nelly Arcan (translated by David Homel & Jacob Homel)