Marie-Claire Blais is a novelist, poet and playwright. Born in 1939 in Québec City, she grew up in the working-class neighbourhood of Limoilou and was educated at a convent school. Blais eventually abandoned her religious studies for the workforce and literature courses at Université Laval. It was there that her extraordinary writing talents were revealed. In 1959, at the age of 20, Blais published her first book, La Belle Bête (Mad Shadows, English translation), widely hailed by critics for its literary merit and assailed by moralists for its bleak portrayal of family life. She has since produced more than 20 novels and several plays, collections of poetry, works of fiction and media articles. Her works have been widely translated and three of her works have been adapted to film, most recently in 2006. She has won numerous honours and awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.
“I believe [that my characters] all believe they’re moving forward, not looking to the past, but forward toward a rebuilding, to a social redemption based on peace. They believe in it, they hope.”