Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in Petit-Goâve, Dany Laferrière worked as a journalist in Haiti before moving to Canada in 1976. He also worked as a journalist in Canada, and hosted television programming for the TQS network.
Laferrière published his first novel, Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer (How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired) in 1985. The novel was later adapted into a screenplay by Laferrière and Richard Sadler, earning a Genie Award nomination for best adapted screenplay at the 11th Genie Awards in 1990. The film adaptation of the novel starred Isaach De Bankolé and was directed by Jacques W. Benoit.
Laferrière writes exclusively in French, although some of his works have been published in English translation by David Homel.
The film Heading South (Vers Le Sud, 2005) was adapted from three of his short stories.
In 2009, Laferrière won the prestigious Prix Médicis for his 11th novel, L’énigme du retour. Upon receiving the prize, he commented on its ability to open up a new readership in France, giving him visibility there. In the past Laferrière had always refused to be published in the fall, a season associated with the great literary prizes, but had been recommended to do so with L’énigme du retour by his editors. The novel follows Laferrière as he returns to his birthplace in Haiti, 33 years after he left it, upon learning of his father’s death in New York City. The narrative blurs the line between prose and poetry, resembling haiku structures in some sections.
On 12 December 2013, Laferrière was elected on the first round of balloting to Seat no. 2 of the Académie française, becoming the first Haitian, the first Canadian and the first Quebecker to receive that honour. He is the second black person to have been inducted, the first being Senegalese writer and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor in 1983.
On 3 June 2014, he was awarded the International Literature Award by the House of World Cultures for his novel The Return ( In 2016, Laferrière won the Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award for his literary achievements.
Laferrière lives in Montreal, Quebec.