news | Wednesday August 23, 2017

Réjean Ducharme, a loss for Quebec and all of us

Talonbooks is grieved to learn of the passing, earlier this week, of beloved and reclusive Quebec author Réjean Ducharme at age 76. His passing was first announced by his French publisher, Éditions Gallimard.

Ducharme’s works – particularly his debut novel L’Avalée des avalés (published in English as The Swallower Swallowed) – influenced the Quebecois zeitgeist during the Quiet Revolution and have maintained their presence in the undercurrents of Quebec culture.

Two of Ducharme’s novels have been published by Talonbooks in English translations by Will Browning: Go Figure (originally published in French in 1994 as Va savoir) and Miss Take (originally published in French – in France, at first – in 1968 as Le nez qui voque), which is now considered a Quebec classic.

Ducharme’s works walk a fine line with impressive balance: they are both culturally subversive and well received. His novels and a play won Governor General’s Awards in 1966, 1973, and 1982; in 2000, he was named Officer of the Order of Quebec; and in 2016, the Quebec government hailed the 1966 publication of The Swallower Swallowed as a “historical event,” an “emblem of the effervescence of Quebec literature.” Ducharme continued writing throughout his life despite his refusal to attend public events honouring his work. He rarely allowed photographs, and since the 1960s he shied away from the media; many think of him still as Quebec’s Salinger.

Also see coverage of Ducharme’s passing in the National Post and other news outlets.