Pascale Quiviger was born in Montreal and holds a Master's Degree in Philosophy as well as a degree in Fine Arts. She lives in England and Italy, where she paints, writes, and teaches visual arts. Her work has been exhibited in Canada and Italy.
She first entered the literary scene with Ni sol ni ciel (2001), a collection of six short stories. She followed this up with her highly acclaimed novel, Le cercle parfait (2003), which won the Governor General's Literary Award for French Fiction. The novel was subsequently translated into The Perfect Circle, in English, by Sheila Fischman and was shortlisted in the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Pascale Quiviger spoke about the many facets of her work and the connections that run through them.
You are a teacher, a visual artist, and an author. How did it all begin?
I was passionately writing and drawing as a child, and it just never stopped. I have been encouraged by my parents in any way they could. I went on studying philosophy and painting; it just made sense to do so. I was reluctant to teach until I was 28. I was then harvesting grapes in a Tuscany vineyard and the neighbor kept showing up with a sketchbook to get some ideas for exercises. He started coming with a friend of his and said he knew ten other interested persons. I started teaching for them and more and more requests kept getting in. I thought that if I gave it a try I might be able to earn a decent living. I started traveling as a drawing teacher all around Italy and became quite passionate about it. It allows for very transparent relationships with people. Now I do not teach as much as I used to, only at ISLA, a private university in Siena.
Who would you say influenced you the most?
In life? My parents. Their value system, their struggles, their victories. Relationships with my siblings. One of my best friends, a Buddhist monk. And various others in which I could observe an overlooked form of courage. In writing, I would say Friedrich Nietzsche, Marguerite Duras, Paul Auster, Maurice Blanchot, Nicolas Bouvier, Christian Bobin, J.K. Rowling.
What drives you?
A blind faith in beauty. The quest for inner balance and broader horizons. Most of all, and very simply, I love writing and painting. When I can’t, I feel deprived.