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A Novel

Written by Nicolas DicknerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Nicolas Dickner
Translated by Lazer LederhendlerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lazer Lederhendler

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Spring 1989. Three young people leave their far-flung birthplaces to follow their own songs of migration. Each ends up in Montreal, each on a voyage of self-discovery, dealing with the mishaps of heartbreak and the twisted branches of their shared family tree.

Filled with humor, charm, and good storytelling, this novel shows the surprising links between cartography, garbage-obsessed archeologists, pirates past and present, a mysterious book with no cover, and a broken compass whose needle obstinately points to the Aleutian village of Nikolski (a minuscule village inhabited by thirty-six people, five thousand sheep, and an indeterminate number of dogs).


Noah instantly fell in love with Cesar Sanchez’s old bike.
Standing on the pedals, with a firm grip on the rim of the basket, head down, he feels as though he’s sailing over the neighborhood. The hazards of the road disappear. No more traffic, no more one-way streets, no more driving regulations. All that remain are the landmarks stretched by speed: the Jean-Talon market, the St-Zotique church, an elderly man sitting on his bench, the statue of Dante Alighieri, the alternating butcher shops and shoe-repair shops, a tree-lined sidewalk.
The deliveryman’s job, which he initially viewed as dreary, suddenly seems to him like an ideal way to map out the neighborhood. Riding his bike, he constructs an aerial view of the territory—squares, alleyways, walls, graffiti, schoolyards, stairways, variety stores, and snack bars—and when he talks with the customers, he gathers intelligence on accents, clothing, physical traits, kitchen smells, and bits of music. Added together, the two catalogues make up a complex map of the area, at once physical and cultural.
He tries to transpose his observations onto a map of Montreal, but two dimensions are not enough to contain the wealth of information. Instead he would need a mobile, a game of Mikado, a matryoshka, or even a series of nested scale models: a Little Italy containing a Little Latin America, which contains a Little Asia, which in turn contains a Little Haiti, without forgetting of course a little San Pedro de Macorís.
For the first time in his life, Noah is starting to feel at home.


 "There is a real strain of romanticism in Quebec novels. One of the most beautiful is Nikolski, by first-time novelist Nicholas Dickner. It offers a breathtakingly original perception of the world, mixing geography, cartography, and longing in a language and construction both intellectually sophisticated and emotionally affecting."—Globe and Mail

"With the obvious (and wicked?) pleasure of a born storyteller, Nicholas Dickner has us holding our breath with his many narratives that join up in most unexpected ways, continuing to surprise us at every turn."—Prix Anne-Hebert jury (Nikolski wom the prize in 2006 for Best First Book)

“Dickner excites the imagination of the reader to the point of ecstasy.”—Le Monde

"Nikolski is a great success, both for its structure and its imagination."—La Presse

  • Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner
  • May 12, 2009
  • Fiction - Literary; Fiction
  • Trumpeter
  • $18.95
  • 9781590307144

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