In recent years a few Frenchmen born outside of France have been named to the this very private club, including perhaps most shockingly, an English-born poet, but Dany Laferrière, born in Haiti, and a Canadian citizen, is the first non-citizen of France awarded the post.
France's minister of culture, Fleur Pellerin, signaled this openness in March 2015 speech in which she pointed out the there are more French speakers outside of France than in it, so it nice to see to substance put behind the talk.
Some interesting details about M. Laferrière's induction and life:
- His traditional a black tailcoat embroidered with green olive branches took a Montreal embroiderer 500 hours to make
- His sword, handmade by a Haitian sculptor, had references to Legba, the Voodoo deity of crossroads
- Among his 20 novels are the autobiographical "How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired," which became a 1990 film