The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Quebec author Dany Laferriere given highest honour in the French language

  • Print

MONTREAL - Author Dany Laferriere has become the first Quebecer and the first Haitian to be elected to the prestigious Academie francaise as an immortal.

Laferriere joins the ranks of such literary legends as Victor Hugo and Eugene Ionesco in receiving what is considered the highest honour in the French language.

"I have to contain my joy because otherwise I'd overflow," he said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press from Haiti, where he is attending a book fair.

"I guess if I were athletic, I'd like to be in a hall of fame," Laferriere said with a laugh.

"It's one of the oldest institutions that there is that brings together writers. To sit in the same chair, in a metaphorical way, as Montesquieu, Dumas, Voltaire, La Fontaine, Racine — it's not bad."

The goals of the Academie francaise are to maintain the purity of the French language and promote eloquence in the arts and sciences. Its 40 members are elected for life.

Laferriere says he doesn't know when he will head to Paris but he is anxious to meet his colleagues and says he takes the post seriously.

"I won't be the phantom academic, meaning someone you never see after he is elected," he said. "I'm interested in the meetings, the work and the relationships between the members."

Born in Haiti in April 1953, Laferriere came to Canada in 1976.

He published his first novel, "Comment faire l'amour avec un negre sans se fatiguer," in 1985. It was translated in 1987 into an English version — "How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired."

He won a Governor General's Literary Award in 2006 for his first children's novel, "Je suis fou de Vava."

Laferriere has also written a number of novels and essays and he won the Medicis prize in 2009 for "L'enigme du retour."

He was elected to the Academie francaise in the first round and will assume its second chair.

Laferriere's election was greeted with much praise in Canada and Haiti.

Pascal Assathiany, director general of Montreal's Editions Boreal, where Laferriere published some of his work, said he will do well at the famed institution.

"There is a phrase that says that to be in the Academie francaise, you have to have talent, you have to be known, and you have to be nice," he said.

"Dany has these three qualities. He's a talented writer, he is known almost around the world and he's very nice, civilized, kind, generous. I think he'll be a good addition for the Academie."

Assathiany added that 2013 is a "special and auspicious" year for the literary world with Laferriere's election to the Academie as well as the awarding of a Nobel Prize for literature to author Alice Munro, the first Canadian to receive the honour.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

In the Key of Bart: Can’t It Be Nice This Time?

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google