Mordecai Richler

Canadian writer (1931–2001)

Mordecai Richler CC (January 27, 1931 – July 3, 2001) was a Canadian author, scriptwriter, and essayist.


  • This is an age of scientific wonders. You miss somebody so you pick up the phone to say hello. Three minutes for sixty-five cents. Nobody goes broke.
  • The chief rabbi of the underworld, that's me.
  • I was a voracious reader, but you would be mistaken if you took that as evidence of my quality.


  • Canada is not so much a country as a holding tank filled with the disgruntled progeny of defeated peoples. French-Canadians consumed by self-pity; the descendants of Scots who fled the Duke of Cumberland; Irish, the famine; and Jews, the Black Hundreds. Then there are the peasants from Ukraine, Poland, Italy and Greece, convenient to grow wheat and dig out the ore and swing the hammers and run the restaurants, but otherwise to be kept in their place. Most of us are huddled tight to the border, looking into the candy store window, scared of the Americans on one side and of the bush on the other.
    • Reported in Mark Steyn, "Mordecai Richler, 1931-2001", New Criterion (September 2001), Vol. 20, Issue 1, pp. 123–128.
  • My enduring feeling about René Lévesque is that if he had chosen to hang me, even as he tightened the rope round my neck, he would have complained about how humiliating it was for him to spring the trapdoor. And then, once I was swinging in the wind, he would blame my ghost for having obliged him to murder, thereby imposing a guilt trip on a sweet, self-effacing, downtrodden Francophone.
    • Reported in Donald Smith, D'une nation à l'autre: des deux solitudes à la cohabitation (Montreal: Éditions Alain Stanké, 1997), p. 61.
  • So far as one can generalize, the most gracious, cultivated, and innovative people in this country are French Canadians. Certainly they have given us the most exciting politicians of our time: Trudeau, Lévesque. Without them, Canada would be an exceedingly boring and greatly diminished place.
    • Reported in Donald Smith, D'une nation à l'autre: des deux solitudes à la cohabitation (Montreal: Éditions Alain Stanké, 1997), p. 61.

About Richler

  • ...the contempt that he has for Quebecers, and for the facts, that trickles from every page, hurt me, as a Quebecer, [...] as a journalist also, as an author, the intellectual dishonesty with which he plays with the facts, he makes comparisons that are absolutely unacceptable, it gave me an enormous headache to read this book, it stopped me from sleeping. [...] Evidently, here in Quebec, we know that he exaggerates, but someone has to say it to English Canadians.
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