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Marie-Claire Blais, CC OQ (born 5 October 1939) is a Canadian author and playwright.
Born in Quebec City, Quebec, she was educated at a convent school and at Université Laval. It was at Laval that she met Jeanne Lapointe and Father Georges Lévesque, who encouraged her to write and, in 1959, to publish her first novel, La Belle Bête (trans. Mad Shadows) in 1959 when she turned 20. She has since written over 20 novels, several plays, collections of poetry and fiction, as well newspaper articles. Her works have been translated into numerous languages, including English and Chinese. With the support of the eminent American critic Edmund Wilson, Blais won two Guggenheim Fellowships.
In 1963, Blais moved to the United States, initially living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, in 1964, she met her partner, American artist Mary Meigs. Marie-Claire Blais was working on her second and third novels, Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel and Les manuscrits de Pauline Archange. (Her first, La belle bête, rocked Quebec in 1959; Blais figures prominently in Edmund Wilson's 1965 book On Canada: An American's Notes on Canadian Culture.) Meigs began a tempestuous affair with Blais, and moved to Montreal in the mid-1970s; she and Blais lived with each other on and off over the next 15 or so years. Fluent in French, a respected painter -- Meigs illustrated several of Blais's works, including Emmanuel and Pauline Archange -- and as Blais's long-time companion, she moved easily in both French and English artistic communities.
Marie-Claire Blais later relocated to Wellfleet on Cape Cod. In 1975, after two years living in Brittany, she moved back to Quebec with her partner. For about twenty years she divided her time between Montreal, the Eastern Townships of Quebec and Key West, Florida.
Much of Blais' writing has been in the form of social commentary, with intermixed elements of good and evil in settings part real, and part fantasy. Her works lean toward the tragic, within a hostile society of vice and violence. The strength of Blais' writing ability is rewarding to the reader in spite of the darker aspects of her themes.
In 1972 she became a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Her works La Belle Bête (1959), Une Saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel (1965) and Le Sourd dans la ville (1979), have been adapted for the cinema.
Canadian film director Karim Hussain adapted La Belle Bête in 2006. He won the Director's Award at the Boston Underground Film Festival's for the film.