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Ann-Marie MacDonald is named Concordia’s first Richler writer-in-residence

The family of late author Mordecai Richler provides ‘truly inspiring’ support for future literary generations
September 24, 2015
By Fiona Downey

Concordia’s Mordecai Richler Reading Room: “The generosity of the Richler family is truly inspiring.” Concordia’s Mordecai Richler Reading Room: “The generosity of the Richler family is truly inspiring.”

Sir George Williams University — now Concordia — was home to Mordecai Richler for only a few years, but his spirit will be galvanizing a new generation of students.

Concordia’s latest gift from the Richler estate is support for a three-year writer-in-residence program in the late author’s name. The Montreal-based novelist, playwright and Gemini Award-winning actor Ann-Marie MacDonald will be the first to adopt the role.

Richler attended Sir George Williams from 1949 to 1951, then acted as writer-in-residence in 1968 and 1969. The Richler family established Concordia’s Mordecai Richler Reading Room in 2013.

“I’m thrilled”: Montreal-based author, playwright Gemini Award-winning actor Ann-Marie MacDonald. | Photo by Gunter Kravis Ann-Marie MacDonald | Photo by Gunter Kravis

“Concordia was the ideal place to keep Mordecai’s memory alive,” says his widow Florence. “Creating the Richler writer-in-residence program is a logical next step because it will provide mentorship as well as inspiration.”

MacDonald’s first novel, Fall on Your Knees, was shortlisted for the 1996 Giller Prize, and won the People’s Choice Award and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year. The Way the Crow Flies (2003) was a Giller Prize finalist and made international bestseller lists. Her latest book is Adult Onset (2014).

Many Canadians also know MacDonald as the host of CBC’s Doc Zone and, prior to that, from the CBC documentary series Life and Times. 

“I am thrilled to be offered this opportunity to work with writers discovering their voices and stories surrounded by the legacy of one of Canada’s great writers,” MacDonald says. A great admirer of Richler, she wrote the preface to the 2005 Penguin Modern Classics edition of The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz.

This fall, MacDonald will be working from the Mordecai Richler Reading Room, and interacting with the Concordia’s creative writing students. She will issue digital dispatches about her experiences at Richler’s desk — she’ll describe what it’s like to be surrounded by so many of his writing-related possessions.

The writer-in-residence dispatches will also cover topics as wide-ranging as the influence and importance of Richler’s work, and his literary geography of Montreal. Readers who are interested in interacting with them can do so through The Walrus magazine website.

In November 2015, at the close of this inaugural residency, Concordia is hosting a public talk featuring MacDonald. 

“The generosity of the Richler family is truly inspiring,” adds Alan Shepard, Concordia’s president. “They understand what this kind of support means to future generations of Canadian writers, and to the country’s literary landscape.”


Find out more about Concordia’s Mordecai Richler Reading Room.

See Ann-Marie MacDonald perform a reading on Friday, September 25, at The works and words of Mordecai Richler event.  


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