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The Fall 2018 Book Room

Surely no one who’s known the monotony of mining life would call it spellbinding. But Montreal artist Ariane Dénommé has managed to make it so. Her new graphic novel, 100 Days in Uranium City (Conundrum), is a compassionate and fascinating portrayal of miners in a northern Saskatchewan town in the 1970s. Dénommé based the book on her father’s experiences, and it’s not a romantic account of blue-collar life. Its characters languish in the purgatory of Uranium City for hundred-day stints, isolated, bored, and exhausted, in a workplace as unsafe as it is unfair. Dénommé’s pencil drawings convey bleakness, with little shading and crude, imprecise lines—a colourless world laden with the miners’ unvoiced desires. But the chiaroscuro also creates a luminous beauty: a lamppost shining on snow on a barren street, or a starry night sky. This beauty also brightens the miners’ lives, ultimately reminding us ...

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