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Stateside Podcast: What if Detroit stayed Détroit?

The book cover of Catherine Leroux's "The Future."
Rachel Ishikawa
Michigan Public
The book cover of Catherine Leroux's "The Future."

“The Future,” a new speculative novel by the Montreal-based writer Catherine Leroux, reimagines what Detroit would be like today if the French had never ceded the city to the British in 1760. Originally written in French, the novel draws on Ontario French and English influences to create a new distinct dialect spoken in the fictionalized “Fort Detroit.”

“I wanted to be able to write dialog in French, a type of French that was colorful and that felt very alive, like everyday slang can be,” Leroux said.

Language is one of the many ongoing themes present in “The Future.” The novel also contends with histories of forced migration, poverty, and environmental degradation. Leroux said that she wanted the novel to speak more broadly to the ways cities will be forced to change in the face of climate change.

“The reason why Detroit and the Detroit area was so interesting to me is because I feel like it's already learned how to cope with … economic disaster,” Leroux said. “So many areas, so many neighborhoods are basically empty. And I love the creativity with which Detroiters sort of saw opportunity in that emptiness.”

“The Future” was selected as a contender for the Canada Broadcasting Corporation’s 2024 Canada Reads competition, which will air March 4-7 on CBC TV, CBC Radio, and Canada Books Online. To hear more about this novel and Leroux’s ideation process, listen to the Stateside Podcast.


  • Catherine Leroux, novelist; author of "The Future"

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
Olivia Mouradian recently graduated from the University of Michigan and joined the Stateside team as an intern in May 2023.