The Orange GroveLarry Tremblay
War takes no prisoners. It involves everyone – even children.
Twin brothers, Ahmed and Aziz, live in the peaceful shade of their family’s orange grove. But when a bomb kills the boys’ grandparents, they become pawns in their country’s civil war. Blood demands more blood and, at the command of a local militant group, either Ahmed or Aziz must strap on a belt of explosives and make the ultimate sacrifice.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
This story made me cry. Since the dawn of civilization we have justified war by claiming that we are creating a better future for our children. And yet don’t we run the risk of laying a curse on future generations? This story reminds us of our obligation to forgive – ourselves as well as others.
Written by Larry Tremblay.
Translated from the French by Sheila Fischman.
East and West Series
160pp, paperback with flaps, £12
Published June 2017
Larry Tremblay is a writer, theatre director and actor. He has written thirty books, including two previous novels, The Bicycle Eater and The Obese Christ; one short story collection, Piercing; and numerous volumes of poetry and plays. Tremblay has been short-listed three times for the Governor General’s Award and his writing has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He lives and works in Montreal.
Sheila Fischman has translated more than 150 Quebecois novels from French to English, including works by Anne Hébert, Gaétan Soucy, Jacques Poulin, André Major, Élise Turcotte, and Michel Tremblay. She has received awards for her translations and for her life’s work, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation, the Columbia University Translation Center Award (twice), and, most recently, the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize.
‘Nuanced but contrasting. Rough but also sensual. Shot through with powerful dialogues but never rambling. This kind of writing takes guts.’ Le Devoir
‘A little jewel, finely chiseled.’ Elle
‘The Orange Grove is a thing of rare, awful beauty… a must-read.’ Mika Provata-Carlone
‘Larry Tremblay’s ability [is] not so much to weave a storyline as to unravel it with finesse and beauty.’ Toronto Sun
‘The voluntary simplicity of Tremblay’s writing recalls the story of Cain and Abel or the parable of the Prodigal Son… With The Orange Grove, Tremblay gives us a novel we should read…not once, but twice.’ La Presse (Quebec)
For Reading Groups
Some questions to inspire discussion:
1. Ahmed and Aziz are used as pawns in war and one of the boys is forced to strap on a belt of explosives to kill the enemies as well as sacrifice himself. Is this a believable story?
2. By telling the story of twins who are separated by a sacrificial death, does this book say anything new about war?
3. Ahmed and Aziz are told that whoever wears the explosives will become a martyr and go to Heaven. How is religion displayed in the book?
4. To what extent are the concepts of brotherhood and family valued or problematized in The Orange Grove?
5. How do you feel towards the parents of the twins? Is their behaviour understandable?
6. Can the suffering of war ever be portrayed accurately and appropriately in literature?
7. The setting of The Orange Grove is never disclosed. What might be the reason for refusing to name the location?
8. Deception is a prominent theme throughout the book. How does this inform the way we receive the characters and their actions?
9. Does the surviving twin find redemption at the end of the book?
10. Larry Tremblay is also a theatre director and actor. Can this experience be identified in the style and plot of The Orange Grove?
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