The Future by Catherine Leroux

In her novel The Future, Catherine Leroux introduces an alternate history in which the French never surrendered Detroit. Though the Fort Détroit described in The Future is experiencing urban decay, it is also a place where neighbours look out for one another.

Gloria, an empathetic main character, comes to Fort Détroit to seek her granddaughters, who disappeared around the time Gloria’s estranged daughter Judith died. The police force seems indifferent at best, incompetent at worst, in helping to find the missing girls, so Gloria begins to delve for information on her own, gradually unearthing disturbing details about her daughter’s life. As the novel progresses, Leroux weaves in some of the backstory history of Gloria’s relationship with Judith, exploring grief, guilt, and nostalgia.

One of the places Gloria decides to look for her granddaughters is Parc Rouge, where a community of abandoned and orphaned children lives in makeshift shelters. The rules the children set for themselves, their methods of food-gathering, and the manner in which they look out for one another are intricately imagined. One of the features of the children’s self-made society is assigning nicknames based on personal quirks or items that are meaningful to each individual, so they assume monikers like “Tick-Tock,” “Terror,” “Wolfpup,” and “Lego” instead of the names they might have been given at birth. This further removes The Future from the world we know, while at the same time effectively differentiating the characters and telling the reader something about them.  

The book was originally published as L’Avenir. Translated from the French by Susan Ouriou, the English iteration, The Future, was released in 2023. The translation has been skillfully done, with the book delivering vivid descriptions and luminous prose. The Future’s alternate-world setting is imaginatively detailed, right down to cultural icons such as a structure called the Tour de Lys, referred to as Francophone America’s Leaning Tower of Pisa. A touch of magical realism adds richness and atmosphere to the book. Houses seem half-alive, horoscopes and tarot cards offer sage advice, and a friendly pit bull with a missing ear has a knack for showing up when needed.

Unlike some dystopian books, The Future is suffused with a sense of optimism despite the sometimes-dark components, such as environmental degradation. Though their neighbourhood is decaying and the economy is crumbling, the characters reach beyond the every-person-for-themselves trope by celebrating community, the power of cooperation, and hope. At the same time, The Future deals with difficult and sometimes disturbing content, albeit off the page for the most part.

Content warning (which may contain spoilers): Neglectful treatment of children, death of children, and drowning are among the book’s occurrences, so readers who might be triggered by content of this nature should be aware of these elements.


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Catherine Leroux is the author of three highly praised novels and an innovative sequence of short stories. Her first novel, La marche en forêt (2011), was a finalist for Quebec’s Booksellers’ Prize. Her bestselling second novel, The Party Wall, a translation of Le mur mitoyen, won the France–Quebec Prize in the original and, in translation, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Dublin IMPAC Award. Catherine Leroux works as a translator and editor in Montreal. She was awarded the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation.

Susan Ouriou is an award-winning fiction writer and literary translator with over sixty translations and co-translations of fiction, non-fiction, children’s and young adult literature to her credit. She has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation for which she has also been shortlisted on five other occasions. Susan lives in Calgary, Alberta.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Biblioasis (Sept. 5 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771965606
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771965606