DUniv. 2017

Honorary Doctorate Recipient

Dany Laferrière


Born in Haiti, Dany Laferrière spent his childhood with his grand-mother, Da, in Petit‑Goâve. He began his career in journalism by reporting for the weekly Le Petit Samedi soir and for Radio Haïti Inter. In 1976, following the assassination of his friend and fellow journalist Gasner Raymond, he fled the Duvalier dictatorship and settled in Quebec. After taking several different jobs in Montreal, he decided to try his hand at writing. In 1985, he published his first novel, How to Make Love to a Negro (Without Getting Tired), which garnered critical acclaim and launched his career as one of the most prominent representatives of a new generation of Quebecois writers. Dany Laferrière followed up this success with a string of novels, including Eroshima (1987), An Aroma of Coffee (1991), Dining with the Dictator (1992), and Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? (1993).

In 2009, Dany Laferrière published The Return, which solidified his reputation as an author of well-paced, powerful books. A string of prestigious awards followed, including the Prix Médicis, the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal, the Prix des libraires du Québec and the International Literature Award-Haus der Kulturen der Welt. In 2006, he took his first foray into the world of young adult fiction with a work entitled Je suis fou de Vava, which won him the Governor General’s Award.

His body of work has earned him honorary doctorates from universities in Quebec, France and the United States, as well as the Grand Prix Ludger-Duvernay, the Blue Metropolis International Grand Literary Prize, and the Mérite du français dans la culture presented by the Office québécois de la langue française. He has also been named an Officer of the National Order of Quebec, Citizen of Honour of the City of Montreal, Officer of the Order of Canada, Commander of the French Legion of Honour, Commander of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Commander of the Francophonie’s Order of La Pléiade, and Companion of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres du Québec.  But the crowning achievement of Dany Laferrière’s prolific career took place on December 12, 2013, when he was elected to the highly exclusive Académie française, the French Academy, to occupy Seat 2, succeeding Hector Bianciotti.

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