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Mister Ho (Monsieur Ho)

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Original Language: French (Canada) | 178 pp. | 2008

2 Seas Represents: Danish, Dutch, English (USA & Canada), Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish Rights.

Originally published in Canada by Editions Alto.

Depending on the publisher and the quality of the translation, translations from French-Canadian into your own language can be funded by the Conseil des arts du Canada and the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles.

LITERARY FICTION

Name: Mister Ho

Occupation: civil servant

Distinguishing feature: discreet by nature

Task: Conduct a census of 1.3 billion people

In a country where being alive means being part of a collective, Mister Ho leads the calm life of an invisible minor civil servant. And yet, somewhere in the Higher Spheres, they have other plans for him. He soon finds himself at the head of a project as vast as it is implausible: a census of all of China’s inhabitants.

Mister Ho will travel by train across a land of contrasts, obsessed by the future and forgetful of its past, where opulence and corruption live side by side with rural poverty. A civil servant, but first and foremost a human being, this son of an outcast of the Cultural Revolution, who silently indulges in the forbidden love of words, will not be able to cast his doubt aside. His emotional state will eventually override his sense of duty, though it will take both an existential and mechanical breakdown in the Mongolian Interior, where his own father disappeared forty years earlier, for this accountant to truly learn to count to one.

At once a surrealist story and a bitter caustic fable on the hidden face of the Secret Empire, Monsieur Ho erects a rampart against ignorance by contrasting it with the subtle poetry of bitter-sweet lucidity.