Books

Monumental Quebec author, Réjean Ducharme, dead at 76

The 1966 publication of Réjean Ducharme's novel The Swallower Swallowed is considered a historical event in Quebec.
Réjean Ducharme, pictured here in this undated photo, was the author of The Swallower Swallowed. (The Canadian Press)

Réjean Ducharme, a well-known Quebec author and playwright credited with influencing the province's culture during the Quiet Revolution with his famous debut novel, The Swallower Swallowed, has died at the age of 76.

The reclusive Ducharme rarely attended public events and had shied away from the media since the 1960s, but his influence on Quebec culture continued through the decades.

Ducharme was named Officer of the Order of Quebec in 2000 and in 2016, the Quebec government named the 1966 publication of The Swallower Swallowed as a "historical event" due to it being an "emblem of the effervescence of Quebec literature."

The book, published in France, is an interior monologue of a young girl who rejects the world of adults and traditional values.

Its prose is considered to be of exceptional beauty and it won the 1966 Governor General's Award when Ducharme was only 25 years old. He won the award again in 1973 for his novel L'hiver de force and a third time in 1982 for his play HA ha!...

Ducharme continued writing throughout his life despite his refusal to attend public events honouring his work.

Tributes to the author have been pouring in on social media, including one from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"We have lost a giant of literature — all of us touched by Réjean Ducharme's work mourn his passing and celebrate his tremendous legacy," Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

Canadian comedian Norm Macdonald also took a moment to commemorate his friend, tweeting, "A sad day as good friend and mentor Rejean Ducharme has passed. #RIPRejeanDucharme."

With files from CBC Books.

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