Nancy Huston

Nancy Huston
Born (1953-09-16) 16 September 1953
Calgary, Canada
Occupation Novelist, translator
Nationality Canadian
Spouse Tzvetan Todorov

Nancy Louise Huston, OC (born September 16, 1953) is a Canadian-born novelist and essayist who writes primarily in French and translates her own works into English.[1]


Huston was born in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada, the city in which she lived until age fifteen, at which time her family moved to Wilton, New Hampshire, where she attended High Mowing School. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College in New York City, where she was given the opportunity to spend a year of her studies in Paris. Arriving in Paris in 1973, Huston obtained a master's degree from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, writing a thesis on swear words under the supervision of Roland Barthes.[2]

After many years of marriage to Tzvetan Todorov, with whom she had two children, Huston now shares her life with Swiss painter Guy Oberson.


Because French was a language acquired at school and university, Huston found that the combination of her eventual command of the language and her distance from it as a non-native speaker helped her to find her literary voice. Since 1980, Huston has published over 45 books of fiction and non-fiction, including theatre and children's books. Some of her publications are self-translations of previously published works. Essentially she writes in French and subsequently self-translates into English but Plainsong (1993) was written first in English and then self-translated to French as Cantique des plaines (1993) – it was, however, the French version which first found a publisher.

She has 25 fiction publications, of which 13 are original fiction and 11 are self-translations.

In her fiction, only Trois fois septembre (1989), Visages de l'aube (2001) and Infrarouge (2010), as well as her three children's books, have not been published in English. She has also published two plays but has not yet translated either.

She has 14 non-fiction publications, of which 12 are original publications and two are self-translations. The other ten non-fiction publications have not yet been self-translated.

While Huston's often controversial works of non-fiction have been well-received, her fiction has earned her the most critical acclaim. Her first novel, Les variations Goldberg (1981), was awarded the Prix Contrepoint and was shortlisted for the Prix Femina. She translated this novel into English as The Goldberg Variations (1996).

Her next major award came in 1993 when she was received the Canadian Governor General's Award for Fiction in French for Cantique des Plaines (1993). This was initially contested as it was a translation of Plainsong (1993), but Huston demonstrated that it was an adaptation and kept the prize. A subsequent novel, La virevolte (1994), won the Prix "L" and the Prix Louis-Hémon. It was published in English in 1996 as Slow Emergencies.[3]

Huston's novel, Instruments des ténèbres, has been her most successful novel yet, being shortlisted for the Prix Femina, and the Governor General's Award. It was awarded the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens.

In 1998, she was nominated for a Governor General's Award for her novel L'Empreinte de l'ange. The next year she was nominated for a Governor General's Award for translating the work into English as The Mark of the Angel.

In 1999, she appeared in the film Emporte-moi, also collaborating on the screenplay.

Her works have been translated into many languages from Chinese to Russian.

In 2005, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada,[4] and she received the Prix Femina in 2006 for the novel Lignes de faille and which, as Fault Lines, has been published by Atlantic Books and is shortlisted for the 2008 Orange Prize.[5]

Her latest novel is Infrarouge (2010).

In 2007, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liège.

In 2010, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa.[6]

In 2012, she won the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award for her novel, Infrared.[7]

Selected works





Selected texts

Children's fiction




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