Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Perrine Leblanc

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Perrine Leblanc

Though her name may be new to some Anglo-Canadians, Perrine Leblanc is a household name for French Canadian book lovers. Her first novel won the French language Governor General's Literary Award as well as Quebec's Canada Reads and the prestigious Grand prix du livre de Montréal.

Now English readers have the pleasure of experiencing Perrine's talents, with The Lake (House of Anansi Press), translated by Lazer Lederhendler. The Lake tells the story of three young women who disappear from a small town one by one, having last been seen at a mysterious local lake known as "the tomb".

We're pleased to welcome Perrine to the site to take on our version of the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.

Perrine tells us about war and onions, dreams up a suit of armour we'd like to borrow, and offers us (in translation) one of the best mottos we've heard.


What is your dream of happiness?

A man to love. A book project on my writing table. Good health. Travelling.

What is your idea of misery?

An empty fridge. Mould in the house. Bad health. Loneliness.

Where would you like to live?

By the sea. No beach, just a savage sea. But I'd miss the big city.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Charisma, intelligence, loyalty.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Generosity, elegance, loyalty.

What is your chief characteristic?


What is your principal fault?


What is your greatest extravagance?

My eight step beauty routine.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Daydreaming, travelling instead of saving money.

What do you value most about your friends?

Their intelligence, their sense of humour, their talents.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?


What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

I'm a perfectionist...

What is your favourite occupation?

Writing, travelling with my books, travelling for my books.

What would you like to be?

A writer, but with a little more cash in the bank.

What is your favourite colour?

Fuchsia, turquoise.

What is your favourite flower?


What historical figure do you admire the most?

Forgotten women. Women "in the shadow" of great men.

What character in history do you most dislike?


Who are your favourite prose authors?

Victor Hugo, Jean Echenoz, Colm Toibin, Nicolas Dickner.

Who are your favourite poets?

W.B. Yeats, Georgette LeBlanc.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Gwynplaine (L'homme qui rit/The Man who Laughs, Victor Hugo).

When I was a young teenager: Anne Shirley.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Those who make history for the right reasons.

Who is your favourite painter?

My best friend's eight year old daughter.

Who is your favourite musician?

Oh my, there're plenty. I used to play the flute everyday: Marin Marais, Mozart, Bach, Chaminade, etc. But I've been listening to a lot of Florence & the Machine lately.

What is your favourite food?

Vietnamese soup.

What is your favourite drink?

Tea. Green or Darjeeling.

What are your favourite names?

Anne, Juliette; François.

What is it you most dislike?

War, violence. And onions.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

An invisible armour to repel bad people.

How do you want to die?


What is your current state of mind?

I feel like a high wire acrobat.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Two books, and a third one on its way in French.

What is your motto?

I don't have one. But : Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage / Put your work twenty times upon the anvil (Nicolas Boileau).

Perrine Leblancwas born in Montreal in 1980. Her first novel (published under the title L’homme blanc in Quebec and Kolia in France) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French Fiction, Quebec’s “Canada Reads” competition, and the Grand prix du livre de Montréal; it was also longlisted for Elle magazine’s Grand prix. She lives in Montreal.

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