–Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation--2012
What Nigel Spencer has achieved with the translation of Marie Claire Blais's Mai au bal des prédateurs is nothing short of brilliance. He has met the formidable challenge of conveying in English the complexity and richness of this narrative with a mastery that is stunning in its range of colour and tone.
--The GGLA JURY.
I found myself deeply engrossed in her hallucinatory and poetic story, ripe for underlining and rereading. Like any hallucinogen, once you give yourself over to it, you can welcome in the mind-expanding experience...Mai at the Predator's Ball will reward you.
--Zoe Whittall--- GLOBE AND MAIL
I was really happy that Nigel Spencer won for his translation of Marie-Claire Blais's book Mai at the Predator's Ball. Blais continues to do amazing, innovative and hard-to-categorize work though she's in her mid 70s at this point. I had forgotten that he'd translated this work. He's won twice before for translating Marie-Claire Blais. For anyone who's not read Blais or who wants to start with an excellent Quebecois francophone writer, she's where it's at.
--Azure Scratchings: Blue Metropolis Literary Festival.
Nigel Spencer of Montreal won his third Governor General's Award for Translation. Each time Spencer won it was for interpreting a work by Quebec author Marie-Claire Blais and this year it was for her Mai at the Predator's Ball. Spencer agreed that translators are playing a greater and greater role as books cross linguistic borders: "Certainly in Canada more and more, and of course in Europe with the European Community," Spencer said, noting that he found it ironic that the Canada Council doesn't have an exact counterpart anywhere else, as Europe experiences a growing mix of amateurs and professionals thrashing around translating not just books but movies and TV.
--The Canadian Press: NOV. 13, 2012.
Mai at the Predators’Ball begins with Dieudonné saying to Petites Cendres “love, my friend, love before every last bell has tolled for you,” and the book is about love, but it's also about death, many kinds of death, the death that comes to the rejected, the forlorn, the poor, and the death that comes from old age...whether you are Mère, a grandmother, or a mother, the story is full of mothers, just like life, ...wherever you find love that is your family, even with all its flaws, so many of the scenes in the book take place at the Porte du Baiser Saloon, a magical, very Montreal kind of club where talented artists create beautiful shows, Yinn the “Thai prince...young men on the margins...finding refuge with darling Yinn and his husband Jason, under the disapproving yet loving gaze of Yinn's mother...this is a great pleasure for the reader, the genuine fluidity of gender, but only for men, the girls and women in this book are restrained, hemmed in, or suffer if they let themselves claim freedom, that's the Predators' Ball...and Mai with her inline skates, saving herself from the worst impulses of the damaged people around her, the world intrudes...we see it all, this book has an exceptional range of characters, from Mai…to Mère...it's a tour de force, a demonstration of the consummate skill of the author, and it forces the reader to see...the worlds are connected by the characters too, as in life...let it all work its way into your bloodstream, before you bite off more, no, it keeps coming at you as in life...
--Elise Moser—Montreal Review of Books
This book explores sexuality and femininity...an alluring club nightlife juxtaposed with life in the suburbs. A group of drag queens at an evening club perform for men and women. Young girls promise their fathers to be innocent forever but no one is entirely honest with each other.
This is experimental literature which challenges our assumptions of what a book should be. The writing is stream of conscious and the characters change from comma to comma..It is easy enough to follow once you get into it and get a feel for the writing style.
Mai at the Predators' Ball overwhelms you at first but the fast paced sentences capture your imagination, challenge your mind and make you marvel at how Blais is able to connect stories so seamlessly.