As the cradle of the French language in North America, Québec (pop. 532,000) is a city renowned for its dynamism, creativity and lively literary scene, attesting to the encounter between French- and English-speakers and indigenous inhabitants. As the ideal city dreamt of by Samuel de Champlain and as the city of romance par excellence, it has long seduced the writers who visit it (Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, H.P. Lovecraft) and inspired native Québec writers (Anne Hébert, Roger Lemelin, Jacques Poulin). Currently, the city boasts 250 writers of literary fiction and over 100 guilds, publishers and booksellers who are at the heart of the revival of Quebec literature.
Numerous poetry evenings, thematic walks, festivals and other events take place throughout the year in Québec. A number of creators have combined literature with technology and other disciplines to create unique works, beyond the limits of the traditional book, seeking new ways to express the world through the written word. Québec innovates through the creation of literary projects incorporating technology and transcending the book format. Its readers are the biggest fans of digital books in the province, and assiduously frequent cultural spaces and the Bibliothèque de Québec network. In 2015, the Maison de la littérature, a centre for outreach and the dissemination of literature that is unique in North America, opened its doors in the heart of Old Québec.
In 2014, seeking to make Québec a bold cultural capital, the municipal government consulted with the art scene on its vision for developing the art-form in Québec. The outcome was a document entitled ‘2025 Cultural Development Vision’, in which the City undertakes to incorporate culture into the daily lives of all citizens, strengthen synergies between creators, invest in culture, conduct outreach and develop a favourable ecosystem for writers and artists. To achieve this, it regularly renews its support programmes for the artistic and literary scenes.
As a Creative City of Literature, Québec envisages:
- implementing the plan to develop and revitalise the Bibliothèque de Québec network with the objective of making it an attractive space for all, with priority given in particular to digital collections;
- promoting reading and the practice of writing and fostering outreach from within the cultural and literary scenes including in the areas of digital publishing and comics, particularly through open-air summer activities developed by the region's literary forum Table des lettres;
- promoting collaboration between Creative Cities and international partners among French-speaking inhabitants, making Québec – as the foremost French language Creative City of Literature – an ambassador within the Network to the French-language literary scene; and
- stimulating international literary exchanges with other cities within the Network, and promoting literary translation, notably through a multilingual digital publishing project.