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Fiction / African American & Black > Code Noir

A Canadian Author Canadian Read

Code Noir

By Canisia Lubrin

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Publish Date

February 06, 2024


Fiction / Sagas
Fiction / Literary


Here is groundbreaking, dazzling debut fiction from one of Canada's most exciting and admired writers.

Canisia Lubrin's debut fiction is that rare work of art—a brilliant, startlingly original book that combines immense literary and political force. Its structure is deceptively simple: it departs from the infamous real-life “Code Noir,” a set of historical decrees originally passed in 1685 by King Louis XIV of France defining the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire. The original Code had fifty-nine articles; Code Noir has fifty-nine linked fictions—vivid, unforgettable, multi-layered fragments filled with globe-wise characters who desire to live beyond the ruins of the past.
    Ranging in style from contemporary realism to dystopia, from futuristic fantasy to historical fiction, this inventive, shape-shifting braid of stories exists far beyond the enclosures of official decrees. This is a timely, daring, virtuosic book by a young literary star. The stories are accompanied by black-and-white drawings—one at the start of each fiction—by acclaimed visual artist Torkwase Dyson.
CANISIA LUBRIN’s books include Voodoo Hypothesis and The Dyzgraphxst. Lubrin’s work has been recognized with the Griffin Poetry Prize, OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry, the Derek Walcott Prize, the Writer’s Trust of Canada Rising Stars prize, and others. Also a finalist for the Trillium Award for Poetry and Governor General's Literary Award, Lubrin has held fellowships at the Banff Centre, Civitella Ranieri in Italy, Simon Fraser University, Literature Colloquium Berlin, Queen’s University, and Victoria College at University of Toronto. She studied at York University and the University of Guelph, where she now coordinates the Creative Writing MFA in the School of English & Theatre Studies. In 2021, Lubrin received a Windham-Campbell prize for poetry, and the Globe & Mail named her Poet of the Year. Code Noir: Metamorphoses is her debut fiction, and includes stories listed for the Journey Prize (2019, 2020), Toronto Book Award (2018) and the Shirley Jackson Award (2021). Born in St. Lucia, Lubrin now lives in Whitby, Ontario, and is poetry editor at McClelland & Stewart.

ISBN: 9780735282216
Format: Hardback
Pages: 360
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Published: February 06, 2024

“Brilliant, challenging, and ecstatic. . . . Code Noir refracts hundreds of years of history into a lively book of fictions. . . . The end result is exactly right, obscuring and countering, rewriting and reweaving, the colonial ordering of the world. . . . [A] dazzling achievement.” —The Globe and Mail

“Visceral, disruptive. . . . Astonishing. . . . Canisia Lubrin has turned her attention to fiction in her striking new work, Code Noir . . . play[ing] with form, time, and polyvocality . . . grounded in the making and unmaking of historical narratives of Black diasporic experience.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“Original and inspiring. . . . Lubrin’s poetry and prose share . . . a keen awareness of the impact of history on the common lives of those of us who live within the Black diaspora. . . . In [Code Noir], Lubrin’s world is one in which we are continually rethinking our past, questioning our present, and inventing the future. . . . Structured, but with an improvised feel, Code Noir is a cooperative contradiction of time and space, of melody and rhythm, of Black lives and Black matters.” —The Ampersand Review

“An interconnected allegory. . . . Lubrin’s iconoclastic flights subvert hierarchies and cover continents and aeons of pain. . . . Torkwase Dyson’s drawings depict these allegories . . . [adding] a fuller picture to Lubrin’s already fulsome text.” —The Miramichi Reader (starred review)

“Written in language that crackles with life and humour, the stories in Canisia Lubrin’s Code Noir: Metamorphoses usher us into the lives of their narrators, lives that are filled with a kind of wonder and surprise. Such an invitation to enter and imagine their worlds. In its formal inventiveness and sheer audaciousness, Code Noir is unlike anything else that I’ve ever read. Lubrin is a force.” —Christina Sharpe, author of Ordinary Notes and In the Wake