Mordecai Richler, Mile End’s literary hell-raiser


What better tribute for a writer than to have a library named in his honour?

Born and raised in the Mile End district of Plateau-Mont-Royal, Mordecai Richler (1931-2001) made this the main setting for many of his stories. An ardent defender of Montréal’s identity, he is considered one of Canada’s great authors. Along with essays, screenplays and children’s books, Richler wrote ten novels, several of which became feature films (the last being Barney’s Version). Known for his incisive and fearless pen, he published many controversial opinions about Québec and Canada.

In March 2015, Mordecai Richler was posthumously named citoyen d’honneur by the Ville de Montréal. At the same time, it was announced that the Mile End municipal library would be renamed after him—a fitting recognition for this ambassador of Montréal’s identity.

Elsewhere in the city, Concordia University (through a bequest from the estate of Mordecai Richler) offers a three-year residency program that also bears his name. The author, actress and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald was the first to be appointed as Richler writer-in-residence. There is also a reading room named for Richler at the same university. It was inaugurated in 2013.

Over the next two years, five Richler novels (including the epic Solomon Gursky Was Here) will be reissued by Éditions du Boréal, in new translations by Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné. A great literary endeavour to honour the memory of a great literary figure!