“Born in 1939, Marie-Claire Blais wrote her first novel, La Belle Bête, at the age of 17. Published in 1959, it instantly became a classic of québécoise literature, was translated into many languages and even into a ballet by the National Ballet in 1976. She won extravagant praise from Edmund Wilson.
Since that auspicious debut she has published 32 books, including A Season in the Life of Emmanuelle, which won the Prix France-Québec and the Prix Médicis in 1966; two years later her novel Les Manuscrits de Pauline Archange won the Governor-General’s Award, and became the first of a trilogy that includes Vivre! Vivre! (1969) and Les Apparences (1970). Her most recent novels to appear in English, These Festive Nights and Thunder and Light, have been published by Anansi.
She is also an accomplished essayist, playwright and poet — her collected poems, Oeuvre poétiques, was published in 1997. She has won three Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Molson Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
It is with great pleasure that tonight we are adding the Matt Cohen Prize to that long and prestigious list of accomplishments.”
— 2006 Matt Cohen Award Committee (Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, and Wayne Grady)