Hold Your Tongue
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978-1-77439-071-9 | 2023 May | 251 Pages
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Upon learning his great-uncle Alfred has suffered a stroke, Richard sets out for Ste. Anne, in southeastern Manitoba, to find his father and tell him the news.
Waylaid by memories of his stalled romance, tales of run-ins with local Mennonites, his job working a honey wagon, and struck by visions of Métis history and secrets of his family’s past, Richard confronts his desires to leave town, even as he learns to embrace his heritage.
Evoking an oral storytelling epic that weaves together one family’s complex history, Hold Your Tongue asks what it means to be Métis and francophone. Recalling the work of Katherena Vermette and Joshua Whitehead, Matthew Tétreault’s debut novel shines with a poignant, but playful character-driven meditation on the struggles of holding onto “la langue,” and marks the emergence of an important new voice.
“Hold Your Tongue expertly weaves historic Métis (and Manitoban) events with contemporary realities in a meaningful confluence of past and present. Tétreault’s approach to Michif storytelling shines: sharing stories within stories while an intergenerational history unfolds, turning painful stories into silly ones out of survival, resisting settler narratives that try to erase Indigenous presence, and re-threading forgotten truths fractured by Métis dispossession into a strengthened, collective histwayr Michif. Uplifting Métis cultural, spiritual, and linguistic practices, the author seamlessly incorporates Michif nicknames, visiting, harvesting, and Franglais colloquialisms characteristic of rural and urban Métis and Franco-Manitobain communities. This novel feels like home.”
— Chantal Fiola, Ph.D, author of Returning to Ceremony: Spirituality in Manitoba Métis Communities
“Inspired by deep knowledge of his French-Métis homeland, Matthew Tétreault has given us a rich, beautifully written novel. In this story you’ll meet unforgettable characters who “sprang from the soil.” This intricate yarn is an evocative detective story, a search for the first betrayals and deviations, a glorious patchwork of vision and memory, buoyed by love as tough and vulnerable as the land that nurtured it. The past is palpable, vibrant in these pages, full of promise, like ‘seedlings’.”
— Margaret Sweatman, author of The Gunsmith’s Daughter
“The wonderful thing about Hold Your Tongue is that it definitely does not hold its tongue. English, French, and Michif gallop across its pages, mingling and colliding like the fractious history of the Canadian West echoing into the present. What James Joyce did for the voices of the Irish Matthew Tétreault has done for those of his own people. This earthy, wise, big-hearted novel about a Métis community’s tangled past and uncertain future shouts, gossips, mourns, jokes, confesses, and sings. Before you reach the end you’ll be singing along with it.”
— Thomas Wharton, award-winning author of Icefields and The Book of Rain
“Witty, down-to-earth, and yet transformative, Matt Tétreault's Hold Your Tongue sets a new benchmark for literature in Canada, folding in francophone and Métis voice and culture and navigating the tensions of family, history, self, and place. Marked both by verisimilitude and contemplation, Hold Your Tongue is a journey through the geography of identity that emerges speaking with a fresh, assured voice.”
— Conrad Scott, author of Water Immersion
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