MONTREAL – Author Dany Laferrière was chosen Thursday to take seat number 2 of the Académie Francaise, becoming the first Quebecer to be admitted to this prestigious French institution.
“To be a writer is my dream. I have always wanted to be one,” Laferrière noted earlier this year.
“It requires much work and late nights, and demands many years of writing to delve into the depths of things.”
Born in Port-au-Prince in 1953, and raised in Petit Goâve, Laferrière worked as a journalist in Haiti before moving to Quebec in 1976.
He published his first novel in 1985, Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer (How to Make Love to a Negro without Getting Tired), which became a best-seller and was adapted into a Genie-award nominated film.
He received the Prix Médicis in 2009 for his novel L’énigme du retour.
Many of his works have been translated to English by the Montreal writer and translator, David Homel.
Gaining the admittance to the Académie Francaise is considered a holy grail for many French intellectuals.
The Académie has 40 seats, each of which is assigned a separate number, and candidates make their applications for a specific seat, not to the Académie in general.
Laferrière has been elected to seat 2, previously held by Hector Bianciotti who died in 2012.
He was chosen over the prominent feminist writer Catherine Clément; poet Yves-Denis Delaporte; 15-year-old high school student Arthur Pauly; writer Jean-Claude Perrier and poet Georges Tayar.
Elected for life, the 40 Académie members are known as “les immortals,” which does not refer to the eternal life of the person, but to the immortality of the French language.
One of its goals is the protection of the French language.
They are distinguished by their official uniforms, known as l’habit vert, or the green habit.
Watch Laferrière describe his day as a writer (in French).