Debut novel draws on time spent in the Townships

According to Sandra Cohen Rose, although the title of her debut novel is the name of a northern Quebec community, a fair part of the story actually takes place in the Eastern Townships. Drawing from her own days living part time in Austin over the course of nearly 40 years, the author said that she felt inspired by the countryside surrounding the Abbey at Saint-Benoit-du-Lac, and built much of into her first work of fiction. As one might expect from a person whose professional background is as a nutritionist and dietician, but whose publishing history includes reference books on art-deco architecture, Cohen Rose describes “Waskaganish,“ as a story that touches on a wide variety of issues. “It has a lot of historical references to it, but it’s an epic love story,” she said, noting that the action moves back and forth between the James Bay area, Montreal, and the Townships, and includes everything from a high profile diamond theft to a gastroenteritis epidemic. The author shared that one of the driving forces behind the novel is a lifelong interest in Canada’s indigenous peoples. Having grown up in a small town near a reserve in British Colombia, she said that the concerns of Canada’s native peoples and the long-term impacts of the residential school system are close to her heart. See full story in the Monday, Dec. 16 edition of The Record.

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