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Mordecai Richler: "Le Prix Parizeau"

When Mordecai Richler left Canada for Paris, he was a brooding young intellectual with lots to say. He returned a prolific, respected writer with a keen eye for the absurd and the magnetism to charm or anger just about all of his contemporaries. From Montreal's Jewish ghetto to Quebec nationalism to boring Anglophones to hypocritical politicians – the incomparable Richler commented, questioned, laughed and angered.

Before a crowd of reporters at an impromptu press conference at a local pub, Mordecai Richler unveils the Prix Parizeau literary award. The contest is open to ethnic Québecois and the prize is $3000 and a framed caricature of Jacques Parizeau by artist Terry Mosher. The initiative of the Impur Laine Society, of which Richler is the president, is a response to Parizeau's assertions that the Quebec referendum was lost due to money and the ethnic vote. "I'm responding with ridicule," Richler explains. "I think ridicule is much more appropriate than anger." 
• The term pur laine is translated as "pure wool." It signifies the old stock or pure blood of Quebec.
• Benet Davetian, author of The Seventh Circle, was awarded the first Prix Parizeau. Davetian penned the collection of short stories about people in conflict around the globe, including one story on the Quebec referendum. David Manicom won the prize in 1997 for his book of short stories Ice in Dark Water.

• Richler has long held a tradition of mocking the establishment. In 1983, he was sent an information request form for inclusion into the Illustrated Guide to the Canadian Establishment. He filled out his form, tongue-in-cheek, indicating that his collections included a compilation of early Babylonian pornography. He also said that he belonged to the exclusive Canadian Automobile Association Club. His submissions were included in the published guide.
Medium: Television
Program: Newswatch
Broadcast Date: June 20, 1996
Guest(s): Nick Auf der Maur, Mordecai Richler
Reporter: Anna Asimakopulos
Duration: 4:21

Last updated: March 5, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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