Dominique Scali wins the booksellers prize

Dominique Scali wins the bookseller’s prize

The author of the novel Sailors cannot swim, Dominique Scali, won the Prix des libraires in the Novels-News-Stories Quebec category on Thursday night. A “big icing on the cake” for the journalist, who initially doubted that a 700-page block with such a fragmented topic would reach so many readers.

“It’s sick, I freaked out a bit,” Dominique Scali admits in an interview with the Journal. It’s a book that took a lot of time and sacrifice on my part, but I felt like it was worth it, that I had to do it despite the “impossible” moments. This award is a confirmation that I wasn’t crazy after all (laughs).

The madness it invokes is that of a sea adventure story set on a remote island in the alternate 18th century, where the unique characters try to survive the elements.

As a reminder, the idea for this marine universe came to the author… while she was crying in her bathroom! “I had to think of the return of water to water, then the little mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale (1837). I imagined mermaids with no tails, all the fantastic and a distant island.

“Just the fact that I put it down and read it to the end was a great sense of accomplishment,” continues the author and journalist for the Journal de Montréal, who took about seven years of research to write this novel.

marine research

The 39-year-old has done her homework. She read a lot on the subject, watched many documentaries about the maritime world and delved into the history of life in the 18th century. She even traveled to Newfoundland in 2019 to further her fieldwork.

“I had an inkling that it could affect the world,” adds Dominique Scali.

Proof of the credibility of his novel, published by La Peuplade last August? From Gaspé to Brittany, past the Magdalen Islands, people who cross her path firmly believe that “she comes from the water’s edge”.

“It touched me that people who have sailed a lot like the book,” says the Montreal native.

What can we expect from his next novel? The winner of the Bookseller Prize explains that the topic will come up when she is carried away by “a new obsession”.

– Dominique Scali published in 2015: In search of New Babylon (translated into English and Spanish), in which she took an interest in the Wild West era.