Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And the award goes to...

On November 2nd, France's highest literary honor was bestowed upon French-Senegalese author Marie NDiaye for her book Trois Femmes Puissantes (Three Powerful Women).


First, let's take a rabbit trail on the award - the famous Prix Goncourt.

The award recipient is selected annually by the 10 members of the Académie Goncourt for "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year". Keeping in mind the award is for 'imaginative', guess what the 10 members of this group are called? Les Dix, which means 'the ten'. Isn't that funny? Anyway... The members meet up on the second floor of the Restaurant Drouant in Paris on the first Tuesday of each month (not in summers - this is France, after all) to discuss amongst themselves that year's books. The award is announced in the fall and the recipient receives the prize money: 10 euros.

Surprising, isn't it? The highest literary honor in the country comes with a check worth $14.77 by today's exchange rate. However, the book is guaranteed to zoom to the top of the bestseller list, so that's not half bad. And you might be interested to know that last year's Prix Goncourt winner was Les Bienveillantes (The Kindly Ones) by Jonathan Littell, an American author who writes in French.

Interested in reading Marie NDiaye's Goncourt-winning book? Here's a description from the Guardian:

Trois femmes puissantes weaves together the stories of three women: Norah, who arrives at her father's home in Africa; Fanta, teaching French in Dakar, who is forced to follow her partner back to a miserable life in France, and Khady Demba, a young, penniless African widow who is trying to join her distant cousin Fanta in France.

Buy it here.

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