French-Canadian author Marie-Claire Blais dies at 82


Marie-Claire Blais, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, died Wednesday at age 82. The novelist, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel God’s Country in 1998, was a prolific author who also published dozens of screenplays.

After one of the first published novels by a French-Canadian author, La Michouflte, Blais earned a place in history. The book won the Prix L’Ordre des Croix in 1962 and appeared in The New York Times’ best seller list for more than a year.

Blais’s name is known, however, for her powerful portrayals of the wars between French and English-speaking Quebec. Her novels and stories frequently focus on the cauldron of conflict that is the province’s history. The protagonist of God’s Country is an anglophone who has to choose between following his pregnant wife or the native faith she will give birth to.

The novel’s ending divides many in the current Quebecois population, who will determine the future of the province. The region now marks a stark contrast to the provincial government, which moves toward sovereignty. Blais’s novels were more successful across Canada and sold more than 3 million copies in Canada alone.

According to a press release, Blais was hospitalized and had been in critical condition since Feb. 5. Her death came just over a year after the death of her husband, playwright and screenwriter Michel Tremblay.

Her partner, Lucien Plante, said Blais died peacefully at about 5 p.m. local time at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital.

Marie-Claire Blais was born in 1955 in Montreal. In 1974, she graduated from Concordia University with a major in English literature and obtained a master’s degree in scriptwriting from the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1988, she founded the theatre company, Armada (French for spear) in Montreal, which she directed for 12 years.

Marie-Claire Blais is survived by her husband, Michel Tremblay, and three children, Alex, Vincent and Katherine.

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