Alice Parizeau, (née Poznanska), journalist, novelist and essayist (born 25 Jul 1930 in Luniniec, Poland; died 30 September 1990 in Montréal). Winner of the Prix littéraire européen and an Officer of the Order of Canada, Parizeau was an active figure in sovereigntist intellectual circles in Montréal and is best known for her trilogy of autobiographical novels recounting her experiences in Poland during the Second World War.
Early Life and Education
Alice Parizeau spent her childhood in Krakow. As a young woman, she acted as a liaison officer for the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) during the Second World War. After the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, she was interned at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. After liberation, she moved to Paris to pursue studies in the humanities (1948), followed by a certificate of political science and law degree in 1953.
Parizeau emigrated to Montréal in 1955 where she wrote for various newspapers and magazines, including Châtelaine, Cité libre, La Presse, Le Devoir, La Patrie and Maclean's. She also had a career as a researcher for Radio-Canada and from 1970 worked in l’Université de Montréal's criminology department.
Parizeau's life in Poland in a context of violence and her integration abroad together form the basis of her literary achievements. Some of her early works written during the 1960s (Voyage en Pologne, 1962; Une Québécoise en Europe "rouge", 1965), are reminiscent of a European past. Others, on the contrary, demonstrate a reflection rooted in the present (Les solitudes humaines, 1962; Fuir, 1963; Rue Sherbrooke ouest, 1967; L' envers de l'enfance, 1976; Côte-des-Neiges, 1983).
Alice Parizeau's career as an author blossomed in North America and Europe with the publication of her trilogy, a Polish saga marked by the tragic experience of war when life consisted of courage and permanent suffering. The first part, Les lilas fleurissent à Varsovie (1981), won the Prix européen de l'Association des écrivains de langue française in 1982. The trilogy continues with La charge des sangliers (1982) and concludes with Ils se sont connus à Lwow (1985). The autobiographical character of the story is supported by Alice Parizeau's talent as a story-teller and succeeds in keeping the readers in suspense with the elaborate staging of rich and complex destinies — both collective and individual.
Other novels followed, including Blizzard sur Québec (1987), which pays tribute to the pioneers of James Bay, and Nata et le professeur (1988), which intertwines love and the atrocities of war during the 1943 Katyn Massacre orchestrated by the Soviets.
In the spring of 1988, Alice Parizeau was diagnosed with terminal cancer and took to keeping a logbook that would be published posthumously as Une femme (1991). In it, the author traces the thread of her existence shared between visceral love for a ruptured Poland, and productive exile with her husband, former Québec Premier Jacques Parizeau.