Dany Laferrière, the first Canadian Immortal

Haitian-born Canadian writer Dany Laferrière was elected to the Académie française seat of the late Argentine author Hector Bianciotti, who died in June 2012. The Académie’s statutes include no conditions regarding titles or nationality.

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Crédits photo : MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP

60-year-old Dany Laferrière was elected during the first round of deliberations with 13 of 23 votes, according to an announcement by the Académie. The Académie française was founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635 with the mission to support the French language and to produce a French dictionary. Laferrière is the first person from Quebec or Haiti elected to this position.

Born in Port-au-Prince on April 13th, 1953, as Windsor Klébert Laferrière, Dany Laferrière is a great intellectual, writer, and screenwriter who lives in Montreal and Miami. His writing favours an autobiographical style. In 2009, he received the Prix Médicis and the Grand Prix du livre de Montreal for his book The Return, which tells the story of his return to Haiti after the death of his father, who had been exiled in the 1960s by Papa Doc, the father of Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Among the other candidates for this honour, one came as a surprise to the venerable members of the Académie and received one vote: 15-year-old high school student Arthur Pauly. “Imagine if they picked me! If my hard work got me elected as an Immortal at 15 years old! Wouldn’t that be great?” young Arthur—a literary enthusiast—wrote in his application letter, which the Académie accepted. Since 2010, the age limit for applications has been set at 75 years old, but there is no minimum age.

- Académie française website

Last modified on 17/12/2013

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