An Unsentimental Journey Through Contemporary Quebec

Sacré Blues, a portrait of contemporary Quebec, won Canada's Edna Staebler Award for Non-Fiction, two Quebec Writers Federation Awards, a National Magazine Award (for an excerpted chapter), and was short-listed for the Writers' Trust Award. It was published in 2000 by Macfarlane, Walter & Ross, and became a Canadian bestseller. Writing Sacré Blues helped Taras fall in love with Quebec, and explained the origins of poutine to an eternally grateful country.

Here's an extract from the original publisher's bumpf:

A hip, enlightening portrait of a place most Canadians find baffling.

Why do three million Quebecers tune in the same absurd sitcom every week? How did they get the nickname "pepsis"? Why does Celine Dion put on a down-home accent when she returns to her home province?

For referendum-weary English Canadians, Quebec is an enigma wrapped in a yawn. Taras Grescoe treats the province as an exotic destination. He takes readers onto the shuffleboard courts of Florida, to a francophone country-and-western festival in rural Mauricie, to the café tables of expatriate Quebecers in Paris. He deconstructs a Montreal Canadiens hockey game, explores the stunning diversity of Quebec’s newspapers, and dismantles Bombardier snowmobiles. En route, he meets Mohawk Warriors, Yiddish-speaking French Canadians, and the UFO-obsessed followers of Raël.

Informed and incisive, Sacré Blues explores the heart of contemporary Quebec: its love-hate relationship with France and the United States; the dance, theatre, and literary productions celebrated in Europe but little known here; its fears about distinctness on an increasingly uniform continent. Along the way we meet such Quebec residents as the playwright Michel Tremblay and the novelist Neil Bissoondath, Teleglobe CEO Charles Sirois and the arctic explorer Bernard Voyer, the foul-mouthed columnist Pierre Foglia and the esteemed philosopher Charles Taylor.

Sacré Blues serves up a spicy, irreverent, inside view of this unique and little-known part of North America. With side orders of poutine, maple syrup, and Vachon snack cakes. And scarcely a mention of Lucien Bouchard.