British Journal of Canadian Studies

Heartland/hinterland/wasteland: North American ex-urbia as a 'non-lieu de la surmodernité' in Catherine Mavrikakis's Le Ciel de Bay City

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2011), 24, (2), 161–175.

Abstract

Turning away from changing definitions of heartland and hinterland in twentieth-century Quebec, Le Ciel de Bay City, Catherine Mavrikakis's 2009 prize-wining novel, offers a devastating critique of Western consumerist society in the anonymous wasteland of contemporary North American ex-urbia. Marcel Augé's analysis of 'supermodernity' provides the initial conceptual basis for an analysis of Mavrikakis's argument. However, the harrowing hallucinatory experiences of her female narrator/protagonist, a Franco-American of Jewish descent, introduce a crucial historical dimension. Uncovering with the narrator the secrets of her past, Le Ciel de Bay City traces the dystopic malaise of North American industrial ex-urbia to its sources in the production-line slaughter of the Holocaust. Mavrikakis's portrait of traumatised alienation thus engages with a Western catastrophe capitalist reification in ways that recall not only the work of Augé but also the analyses of sociologists such as George Ritzer and political activists such as Nancy Klein.

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Author details

Killick, Rachel