Dany Laferrière, a Guardian of French, Joins the Académie Française – NYTimes.com

“Dany Laferrière embodies the opening up of the French language,” said Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, the permanent secretary of the academy. His induction, she said, was an important signal that language trumped nationality. “Homeland is the French language,” she added.

“I feel immense joy,” Mr. Laferrière, 62, a Canadian citizen, said after the ceremony. He wore the signature costume of academicians: a black tailcoat embroidered with green olive branches that in his case a Montreal embroiderer spent 500 hours sewing, and a metal sword specially made by a Haitian sculptor with references to Legba, the Voodoo deity of crossroads.

“I’m immortal, don’t you know — I’ll never die,” Mr. Laferrière added with a wide smile.

The academy members, with an average age around 70, are known as “immortals” and serve for life. There are 40 seats but currently 39 academicians, after the death in February of the Algerian-born novelist Assia Djebar. Other academicians are writers, social scientists, a few politicians and one cardinal. via – NYTimes.com.

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