Mordecai Richler library leads tribute ideas
Support for Montreal gesture grows as councillor takes petition to city hall
Snowdon city councillor Marvin Rotrand will present the petition at city hall on Monday night.
He hopes the rest of city council will back his idea, and come up with a suitable way to pay tribute to the prolific author, infamous curmudgeon and ardent federalist by the anniversary of his death on July 3, 2011.
So far, some suggestions have ruffled feathers, including renaming a street such as Mile End's Fairmount Street or Saint-Urbain Street after the author.
However, Rotrand said one idea is gaining momentum.
The Mordecai Richler petition says:
We the undersigned note that July 3, 2011, will mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of the eminent Canadian writer Mordecai Richler whose work represented a remarkable testimony to the immigrant experience, particularly the Jewish immigrant experience, in Montreal in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
We request that the City of Montreal make an appropriate gesture to commemorate the contribution of Mordecai Richler in naming a street, a public place or building in his honour.
"The number one thing is to name a library for Mordecai Richler. A lot of people suggested the Mile End Library," said Rotrand, noting the library in the heart of the neighbourhood where Richler grew up and set many of his novels, including Barney's Version, which has been adapted into a film in theatres now.
Rotrand said his petition is tapping into a widespread public interest to honour Richler. While hundreds of streets, parks and public squares in Quebec bear the names of French artists, writers and intellectuals, currently nothing bears Richler's name.
"The fact that a writer of the stature of Mordecai Richler doesn't in his own home town have some sort of recognition seems odd to me," said Rotrand.
"The support has been coming from all parts of the island of Montreal, all ethnic groups and all linguistic groups. People basically said his genius needs to be recognized."
Other municipalities have taken the step of re-naming libraries after celebrated local authors. The Montreal borough of Lachine christened one of its libraries after Saul Bellow, the late writer and winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature.
The ball has already started rolling to find a suitable way to honour Richler.
Rotrand said the city's place name committee is already studying a number of suggestions.