Novelist and playwright Réjean Ducharme was born in Saint-Félix-de-Valois, Quebec, in 1941. His first novel, L’Avalée des avalés The Swallower Swallowed (1966), won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1967 and the CBC’s Canada Reads francophone competition in 2005. This work also garnered him a nomination for France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt. His second novel, Le Nez qui voque (1967), was awarded the Prix littéraire de la province de Québec. These two, plus a third novel, L’Océantume (1968), were published during the years of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec and made a significant impact.
Ducharme wrote the plays, Le Cid maghané and Ines Pérée et Inat Tendu in 1968, and Ha ha! which won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1982 has also been translated into English. He received the Prix Belgique-Canada in 1973 for L’Hiver de force and the Prix France-Canada in 1976 for Les Enfantômes. In addition, he wrote the lyrics of several songs for Robert Charlebois (1976). Ducharme also wrote the screenplay for two very successful films: Les Bons Débarras (1979) and Les Beaux Souvenirs (1981) produced by Francis Mankiewicz. After a fourteen-year silence, Ducharme surprised the world with two novels, Dévadé (1990) and Va savoir (1994).
Réjean Ducharme is one of the most significant and original voices in Quebec literary history. He is not only one of Quebec’s most influential playwrights, but also one of the province’s enigmas: he has not been seen in public for over a decade and there are few known photographs of him. He followed his early work with other novels including La fille de Christophe Colomb which has since been adapted for the theatre and translated into English as The Daughter of Christopher Columbus (Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2000). His play Ha! ha! (1978, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde /TNM, directed by Jean-Pierre Ronfard ) won him another Governor General’s Award in 1982 and the Grand Prix littéraire du Journal de Montréal.
He has also written films and lyrics. In 1994 he won the Quebec Government’s Athanase-David Literary prize. In 1999 he was awarded the Grand Prix national des lettres by the minister of culture for France. He sent writer Roger Grenier to pick up the prize. His novel Gros Mots was published in 2000 by Gallimard. His other plays include: Le Cid maghané (Festival de Sainte-Agathe, 1968), Le marquis qui perdit (Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, 1970, directed by André Brassard ), Ines Pérée et Inat Tendu (Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale, 1976). In 2001, TNM mounted an adaptation of his novel L’Hiver de force as part of the company’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations and subsequently toured the production to Paris.
Short-listed 1994 Governor General's French Fiction Award