The Town Below takes place in St. Joseph Parish of Quebec City's Saint-Sauveur suburb. Saint-Sauveur is a parochial and provincial place where narrow piety and corruption can be found in every corner, and Denis and Lise, two adolescents in love, ...
s in love, scandalize the town with their affair. Scheming politicians and clergymen and grasping social climbers mix with salt-of-the-earth citizens in a rough-and-tumble satiric assault on pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec mores and attitudes.
The Town Below won the Prix David and the Prix de la langue française. Lemelin was also awarded Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships. A bestseller in Quebec when it originally appeared, The Town Below has been called the "pioneer novel of working-class Quebec" and exploded, with great controversy, the smothering social and religious strictures prevalent among postwar Québécois. The novel was first published in English by Reynal & Hitchcock in 1948.