Dany Laferrière: Portrait of a Writer-Reader

Present until Sunday at the Salon du livre de Montréal as an honorary guest, Dany Laferrière offers here a taste of his literary universe.

Can you start by explaining to us why you find it so important to talk about other people’s books in your books?

Because I deeply believe that literature is one and that its great promise is to show us that we are all the same in all latitudes.

For my part, I’m a playful reader, a little impulsive, a little butterfly. I like to move from one emotion to another. I do not judge, I meet people.


From what we could understand by reading the conversation Autoportrait de Paris avec, your illustrated book, Jorge Luis Borges would be one of your favorite writers?

Highly influential writers do not necessarily have to be read by everyone. But the passion they evoke is very important. For 40 years I have talked about Borges and I have known him a lot with Quebec. When we look at this fidelity, we see that literature is not necessarily the search for new sensations.


And of all the books Borges has written, which have been most significant to you?

The first thing you need to do would be to read interviews with him online to try to see his life, to understand who he was. You have to find time to discover a little bit like that, because it’s interesting to be the writer’s friend that you like or that you will discover. And then the interviews, here’s where Borges was stronger. The more stupid the person was and asked meaningless questions, the better! He was so kind that he made great efforts to make the person look smart!


Dany Laferriere

Otherwise I would recommend The book of sandwhich is probably his easiest book to read.


When you were a teenager, you would have liked to have met Gérard de Nerval. If it were possible, what would you like to ask?

Oh! Not much! People who impress us a lot, we are afraid of their presence. So I would love to sit down and spend the afternoon with him without saying almost anything.


Recently, has any book managed to excite you?


Dany Laferriere

I do not know. I have read many books on literary awards this year. But I still think about message sticks of Joséphine Bacon, a senior poet. We see naked things in his poetry, and it comes from someone who has long seen the ice and empty spaces where we have to look for nature to find it.


Following Hector Bianciotti in chair number 2 of the French Academy, you have done your duty to read all the novels of this writer of Argentine origin. Which did you prefer?


Dany Laferriere

I would say Without the mercy of Christ. In 1985, when I published How to make love to a black man without getting tiredmy first book, the Foundation for the Blind asked me to read and also read a passage from Without the mercy of Christ, published in the same year. To practice, I therefore read it carefully once, twice. Hector Bianciotti uses a lot of subordination and is almost precious in his writing, but the story is beautiful.


When you left to live in Paris, a large crate of books quickly followed you. If you had to pick only five, without which you could not do?

  • Fiction of Borges. This is Borges’s first book I read and I was stunned. I did not know you could write short stories like this.
  • War and peace by Leo Tolstoy. For four months I read only this book and all the words of Tolstoy. I wanted to be able to do it in the best conditions. A wonderful read.
  • Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I read it at a time when I was handing out leaflets in Verdun and this book somehow saved my life: every time I dived into it, I was no longer a leaflet distributor, but a reader!


    Dany Laferriere

  • One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s the only book I can not reread, because every time I open it, I know everything and it seems to me that I am entering my life!


    Dany Laferriere

  • Dangerous relationships by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. The most vivid and closest book to me because it delves into the desire and the will to desire.


    Dany Laferriere


And what are you reading now?

Oh, I have always been very modest with my reading. Here is Master-Midnight by Makenzy Orcel. Just doli. The author hopes to reach a day with Faulkner. He has work ahead, but has a crazy talent.

Dany Laferrière at the Montreal Book Fair

  • Joint interview with Marc Levy from 12:30 to 13:15 on the La Grande Place stage.
  • Autograph session from 13:15 to 14:30 and from 16:00 to 17:30.
  • Autograph session from 13:30 to 14:30 and from 16:00 to 17:30.
  • Interview “writer’s faith” from 15:30 to 15:55 on the Grande place stage.

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