Yann Fortier dives into the 1980s and the world of disco with Born to Be Alive, in bookstores on October 9

Born to be Alive, Yann Fortier’s second novel (The Anguish of Paradise, winner of the Adelf-Amopa Prize for a first French-language literary work), retraces the astonishing rise of Antoine Ferrandez who, at the turn of the 1980s, achieved interplanetary glory thanks to his emblematic disco anthem Born To Be, Or Not To Be (Born).

From boarding schools to palaces, from the train station to the terminals, this story swirls like a disco ball over a pivotal period: that of the crazy year 1980 and its very intense first months, marked by a series of tragedies.

Featuring Belgian military strategist Jean-Loup, collaborators Nicole and Sylvie, impresario Brassens, photographer Carla Lopes and a cartel leader, this pre-digital world story takes us to Milan, Montreal, the Magdalen Islands and the TV set of Apostrophes. At school or in Concorde, you go back in time, to Rio, in the midst of a suffocating tragedy. A, over these intense months, foundation for the decades to come. 

With the narrative and sound frameworks for the evolution of behaviours and media, consumption and communication, the novel plays with the codes and clichés of the time, both literally and figuratively,resulting in resolutely offbeat snapshots of the time.

A portrait of a time when disco music lives its last hours of glory, Born to be alive follows the life of Antoine Ferrandez, bringing forth in spite of himself his mega hit song. Serious, sarcastic or exciting, Yann Fortier writes with breath and spontaneity, propelling his words from a murky border, between reality and surrealism. The energy of disco and a certain retro happiness punctuate this narrative, resulting in an ode to the last analog years.

“The pivotal months of the late 1970s and early 1980s are perhaps the most illustrative of who we are today: propulsion of technology devices, increasingly drawn towards screens with the arrival of MTV, CNN, video game consoles and infotainment. But it is also a moment and a novel of carelessness, a free in structure narrative, to be read near a Nakamichi LX-3 cassette player, with a silent mechanism,” explains Yann Fortier.

Yann Fortier was born in Quebec City. From an early age, he was transported by the energy, exploration and sound of words and music. Freelance editor, general manager of the renowned photo exhibition World Press Photo Montreal, in 2015 he published his first novel, The Anguish of Paradise, winner of the Adelf-Amopa Prize for a first French-language literary work. He divides his time between the Laurentians and Montreal, punctuating his route with trips, races and, ideally, an unlikely trip to an Eastern European country. In the spring of 2020, he completed his second novel, Born to Be Alive.

Born to be Alive

Leaf Merchant Editions

500-page novel ISBN 9782925059073 – $29.95

In bookstores from October 9, 2020

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