Born in Hungary in 1975, Akos Verboczy moved to Montreal, Quebec at the age of 11 with his sister and mother, an esthetician, who learned that in Canada women were willing to pay a fortune ($20) to have their leg hair brutally ripped out.
His story begins in Hungary, where at the age of nine he learned that he was a Jew too—”half-Jew” to be more accurate. Unlike some who emigrated from Eastern Europe, Verboczy has no particularly beefs about life “behind the iron curtain.” He lands in Montreal as James Brown’s Living in America plays and Rocky knocks the Russian communist boxer flat in Rocky IV. The good guys he had learned to like were now officially the bad guys. Once in “America” he discovers that he will be going to French school—after all it is Québec. But then he learns that Canada is the only “place on the planet where there’s no prestige in speaking French.”
In fifty vignettes and tales that belie all the clichés about immigration to Québec, he depicts the experience of embracing a culture and a people who are constantly obliged to reaffirm their right to exist. A keen young fencer, he identifies with Alexander Dumas’s d’Artagnan, the outsider who insists that his “heart is musketeer” though his dress is not.
At a time when identity politics are at the fore, Verboczy’s observations are both enlightening and witty, comforting and yet challenging, and humorous. He does not hesitate to discuss thorny political issues such as language laws, anti-Semitism, multiculturalism, values, Québec sovereignty, and more. Rhapsody in Quebec is an important contribution to public debate wherever immigration is an issue, be it Quebec, Canada, United States or on other continents.