With a degree in applied arts from the Montreal École du meuble, he became a set decorator with Radio-Canada in 1956. His first broadcast scripts were written for this state-owned enterprise. In 1960, he published his first novel, Et puis tout est silence, in Les Écrits du Canada français (a French-language literary magazine). That same year, he was awarded the Prix du Cercle du livre de France for La corde au cou.
A member of the Quiet Revolution generation, Claude Jasmin took an interest in political issues. Although he was not formally associated with them, he supported the writers of Parti pris (a political and cultural magazine). He was particularly involved in the debate regarding joual, as he demonstrated in his book entitled Pleure pas, Germaine, published in 1965.
He received the Arthur B. Wood award for his play entitled Le veau dort (1963) and was awarded the Prix France-Québec for his novel Éthel et le terroriste (1964), as well as the Prix France-Canada for La sablière (1980) — a novel on which the screenplay for the Jean Beaudin film Mario was based.
La Petite Patrie and Other Literary Successes
Abandoning political and nationalist issues before many of his generation’s writers, he chose to write autobiographical novels, which became the greatest successes of his career. Initially published as a novel in 1972, La Petite patrie became a very popular soap opera in Quebec from 1974 to 1976. In 1989, the Saint-Édouard neighbourhood in Montreal was renamed Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie in honour of his novel.
Claude Jasmin had another success in 1998, with Albina et Angela: La Mort, l’amour, la vie. In 1976, he published Le loup de Brunswick City, followed by L’armoire de Pantagruel in 1982. Throughout his career, he wrote arts columns in a number of periodicals.
In 2016, the government of Quebec awarded him the prestigious Prix Athanase-David.
Claude Jasmin’s polemical style earned him the nickname of the “enfant terrible of Quebec literature”. This style is particularly evident in Des cons qui s’adorent (1985), Les Cœurs empaillés (1986), Pour tout vous dire (1988), Pour ne rien vous cacher (1989), La nuit, tous les singes sont gris (1996), and L’Homme de Germaine (1997).
His comments regarding the Hasidic Jewish community and immigrants were controversial (See also Anti-Semitism) and resulted in the quashing of his political aspirations with the Parti Québécois in 1989 following the opposition to his candidacy expressed by Jacques Parizeau.