Montreal

Quebec author Marie-Claire Blais dead at 82

Her most well-known work, Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel, won her the Médicis and France-Québec awards in 1966.

Prolific writer known for works such as Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel

Marie-Claire Blais died at her home in Key West, Fla. on Tuesday. She was 82 years old. (Radio-Canada)

Novelist, playwright and poet Marie-Claire Blais has died. She was 82 years old.

Goodwin, the agency representing her, made the announcement late Tuesday on social media. Blais died in her home in Key West, Fla., where she has lived for years.

Born in Quebec City in 1939, Blais published her first book, La belle bête, when she was 20 years old. She then received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation with the support of famous American critic, Edmund Wilson.

Her most well-known work, Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel, won her the Médicis and France-Québec awards in 1966. It was written with Wilson's help in the United States and was published in France in 1965.

The novel revolves around Emmanuel, the youngest child of a large, rural Quebec family, raised by his omnipresent grandmother. His brothers, sisters and parents evolve alongside him, while refusing to live in misery despite experiencing poverty and sickness.

The book, which has been translated into over 10 languages, is one of the most read Quebec books worldwide. Over 2,000 books, essays, articles, reviews and interviews were written about Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel, and its many interpretations represent the complexity of the work.

Author Marie-Claire Blais on writing in 1967

3 years ago
Duration 8:09
Marie-Claire Blais speaks to Phillip Resnick about influences on her writing, solitude, and politics.

In a 1966 Radio-Canada interview, after receiving her Médicis, Blais said the award wouldn't change how she approached her work, but that it was "very important for the heart."

"Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel is one of the first novels I ever read," said Quebec Premier François Legault on Twitter Tuesday night, offering his condolences to the friends and family of the author.

Known to shy away from the spotlight, Blais spent her time between Key West, the town of Melbourne in the Eastern Townships and Montreal.

However, she was generous in speaking with fellow writers and participated in numerous juries, including the Robert-Cliche Prize for emerging works.

She spent several years as the partner of American painter Mary Meigs, who died in 2002.

Based on a report from la Presse Canadienne

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