The Shell


125 pages
ISBN 0-88750-814-6
DDC C843'.54





Translated by David Lobdell
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is a free-lance writer living in Ajax, Ontario.


This book is a curious, evocative, and poetic work of fiction. Its basic
construction is that of a novel, but it is actually closer to allegory
or fable.

The story begins at the end, when middle-aged Franзois and his
companion Xunmil return to a village on a river. On an island in the
river sits an enormous shell, in which the two of them once lived. Their
memories and conversation gradually draw the reader into the story of
how Franзois’s father found the shell and developed an erotic and
spiritual relationship with the creature that occupied it, variously
described as a monster, a mollusk, and a nautilus.

The book is slow and sad. In its treatment of the relationships between
the humans and the nautilus, it resembles the “magical realism” of
works by such Latin American authors as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Rochon
successfully draws the reader into the world she creates, and the
release at the end is cathartic.

Lobdell’s translation is painstaking and poetic.


Rochon, Esther., “The Shell,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,