978-0-7710-9878-9 / 0771098782

Street of Riches (New Canadian Library)

by Roy, Gabrielle

Publisher:New Canadian Library


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About the book:

Gabrielle Roy's Street of Riches, which won both the Governor General's Award and the Prix Duvernay, is a series of linked stories, loosely based on the author's childhood in the francophone community of Saint-Boniface, Manitoba. It is a book of immense historical interest, largely because of the surprisingly diverse culture of 1920s and 1930s Manitoba: Roy's French-Canadian protagonists take on an African-Canadian lodger in "The Two Negroes," mediate between the Canadian government and the Doukhobors in "To Prevent a Marriage," and brush up against a surprising range of English Canadians and European immigrants.

Sadly, Street of Riches is far too precious and maudlin to be a really compelling collection. Roy's tendency to sentimentalize poverty and childhood misery might go unnoticed in the particularly dire setting of The Tin Flute, her best-known novel, but here lends these stories a certain uncomfortable frivolity. Though a diverting book that will undoubtedly continue to entertain many readers, Street of Riches is hardly Roy's best work. For a more honest view of the situations presented here, seek out the stories in Roy's The Road Past Altamont, a more intense and satisfying treatment of the same material. --Jack Illingworth

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