Hamelin, Louis

Louis Hamelin, novelist (b at Saint-Séverin de Proulxville, Qc, 9 Jun 1959). His strange insane novels peopled with disillusioned heroes and witnessing the despair of an entire generation, made Louis Hamelin a major author of the 1990s. This native of la Mauricie and 1983 biology graduate of McGill, held several minor jobs and travelled extensively before taking up studies in literature in 1987. In 1991, he received his masters' degree in creative writing from the Université du Québec à Montréal. The prior appearance of La rage (1989) met with instant success and was crowned by the Governor General's award. Then followed: Ces spectres agités (1991), Cowboy (1992), Betsi Larousse ou l'ineffable eccéité de la loutre (1994), and Le soleil des gouffres (1996). Equally rebellious and sensitive, intellectual yet dropouts, the narrators in Louis Hamelin's novels pose a cynical look at modern day Québec. The writing is dense and playful, bristling with rare words and plays on words, where poetic flight tangles with frenzied descriptions. An account where a young hero reveals his cruellest disillusionment in the intimate tone of a diary intersects the most sublime and trivial levels of language. For this reason, critics evoke Réjean Ducharme, Jacques Ferron, Victor-Lévy Beaulieu and Jack Kerouac in Louis Hamel without denying his own originality. This resides especially in the irony of words, a sign of the hero's repressed violence and powerless faced with the dispossession of territory, the conformity of a society satisfied with itself, and the defeatism of youth whose cultural and political numbness match that of the elderly. In 1999, his columns that had appeared in Le Devoir were grouped together under the title Le voyage en pot.