In 1907, the fifteen-year-old French-Canadian Ernest Dufault left his home in Quebec for Montana, where he was promptly arrested as a cattle thief and, as a prisoner of the state of Nevada, passed himself off as an American cowboy named Will James.
Over the next few decades, Dufault, a.k.a. James, would flourish as a cowboy and horsebreaker and go on to become an artist, a soldier, a Hollywood stuntman, a bestselling author of award-winning westerns — and his own false memoir. The Quebecer was so successful a pretender that he was later inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners, and his estranged wife, Alice Conradt, would only learn his true identity when, at the age of fifty, Will James died an alcoholic and left his estate to a man she had never heard of: one Ernest Dufault.
Olivier Dufault recreates the true story of his distant relative Ernest’s incarceration in a Nevada prison for rustling cattle and his subsequent reinvention of himself. Relying on authentic historical materials including letters, telegrams, and court documents as much as his own imagination, Dufault’s magnificent novel is a posthumous benediction of an exceptional American life in which truth and lies walk side by side.
Olivier Dufault, author
Olivier Dufault grew up in Acton Vale, Quebec, where he was raised on the stories of his distant cousin’s exploits in the American West. Bénédiction is his first novel. He lives in Montreal. Bénédiction was translated into English and published in Canada by House of Anansi in 2019.
- Written with grace and intelligence . . . The work thorough; the details conscientious; the writing is patient, sculpted, and refined . . . A novel dense, rich, and altogether surprising in its evocation of scenes from a century ago. - La Presse
- The majesty and the trials of the territory are magnified as much by the language and precision of its author as by the confinement of its hero. - Le Devoir
- A breathtaking novel evoking the great desert spaces of the American West. - Journal de Québec
- Brilliant . . . A vivid imagining of a transitional stage in the life of a man who dedicated much of that life to covering his tracks. - Montreal Gazette
- Longlisted, Prix France-Québec
Rights Holder: Marchand de feuilles
rights sold: English (World)
rights available: World
age range: Adult
number of pages: 452
publication date: 08/10/2017
Original language of pub: Français
Materials Available: finished book
Additional Materials: Book available in English translation