By MARCIA DUBSKY
Daniel Soha is an award-winning author in the French language and has written five novels in French and translated two books of poetry.
Soha grew up and went to school in Aix en Provence in France where he studied Anglo-American literature and culture.
“I picked Anglo-American culture and literature, basically because the first job opportunity would be teaching, and teaching ensured me with financial independence very early. I didn’t want to go on and on and on studying looking for a job,” said Soha, a former Beach resident who now calls southwest Scarborough home.
He recently released his first book in English, a collection of short stories titled Vignettes.
According to Soha, he took a competitive exam with the French government and qualified for a teaching position. He later applied for an opportunity to work abroad as it seemed like a more appealing option than having to do compulsory military service in France.
After leaving France for the first time to work in New York, Soha was then able to secure jobs in other countries and major cities including Singapore, Paris, and Boston before coming to Toronto.
Throughout his career as an author, Soha wrote novels in French but he said his limitations in living in a city where people speak mostly English encouraged him to take on the challenge of writing his first book in English.
“I was married to an Anglophone, working and living around people speaking in English,” said Soha. “Everyone would be asking what my books in French are about. Explaining it is not the same thing as if they read it.”
He said Vignettes is a mix of stories.
“This book is about various places, people, situations, inspirations, time periods, and even, to a certain degree, literary styles,” said Soha. “You find intimate, almost confidential narratives, others that are very romantic and poetic, a nostalgic novella, various treatments of the theme of life and death, from tragic to humorous, and even an Irish story written in the style of HP Lovecraft.”
According to the foreword of the book, Soha tried many times to express himself in French to then translate into English but people would have a hard time understanding his French expressions.
“I learned the hard way what has been drilled into the mind of every self-respecting translator: You always translate into your own native language, and not the other way around. And for those who are hesitant about what their first language is, it is quite simply the language you spontaneously count in,” said Soha.
He said he likes to take on new challenges and writing in English helped him see a bigger vision for his next writings.
“I want to give people a good time reading my stories. That’s all I want. I want to create pleasure in other people. This is ultimately the most rewarding thing about being a writer,” said Soha.
Vignettes is available for purchase locally at Book City, 1950 Queen St. E., in the Beach.
For more information on Soha and Vignettes, please go to: https://mosaicpress.ca/products/vignettes