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Dany Laferrière wins France’s Prix Médicis Author of L’Énigme du retour. ’His fame doesn’t yet match his talent’

dimanche 15 novembre 2009 par Administrator

Dany Laferrière’s L’Énigme du retour reflects on exile in describing his return to his native Haiti after the death of his father. The book is a French-language best seller in Quebec

Montreal-based Dany Laferrière is the winner of the Prix Médicis 2009 for his novel L’Énigme du retour (Éditions du Boréal).

The Prix Médicis celebrates original writing and is awarded to an author whose "fame does not yet match their talent."

Laferrière’s novel is a mix of haikus and narrative and describes a Haitian-Canadian’s return to Haiti following the death of his father.

Laferrière receives 30,000 euros, almost $47,000. He is the first Quebec author to receive the prize since Marie-Claire Blais did in 1966.

"(The book) reflects on exile," Laferrière said in a video interview by publisher Grasset & Fasquelle in France in September. "It is full of contradictions and contrasts. When I returned to Haiti I wanted to distance myself from its history. I took my notebook and I wrote down what was happening now."

L’Énigme du retour currently tops The Gazette’s best-seller list in the French-language category. The Prix Médicis is a French literary award given to a writer with exceptional talent who has not yet attained worldwide fame. Prizes are awarded for both French and international fiction and for non-fiction.

Laferrière immigrated to Canada from Haiti in 1978 and now divides his time between Montreal, New York and Miami. He has written 16 novels, including Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer (1987) and the children’s book Je suis fou de

Vava, which won a Governor General’s Literary Award in 2006. Two of his novels, Comment faire l’amour and Vers le sud (2006) have been made into feature films.

His novel I Am a Japanese Writer (the translation of Je suis un écrivain japonais, 2008), about a novelist suffering from writer’s block who finds out he is famous in Japan for a book he never wrote, will be published in English next fall.

Laferrière is also the recipient of the 2010 Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix. It awards him $10,000.

Other Prix Médicis winners were American author Dave Eggers for What Is the What, the odyssey of a young Sudanese refugee (international fiction), and Alain Ferry for Mémoire d’un fou d’Emma (non-fiction), an ode to fictional character Emma Bovary and author Gustave Flaubert.

kgreenaway@thegazette.canwest.com

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