Home > Personal Posts > End-of-the-year billets rush and November Literary Prizes in France

End-of-the-year billets rush and November Literary Prizes in France

December 5, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

We’re already the 5th of December and the end of the year is looming over us. Christmas lights are installed in cities, Lyon gets dolled up for the Fête des Lumières (The Festival of Lights)

and I still have a few books without a billet. I need to be honest with myself, I won’t be able to write proper billets about these six books on top of the ones I’ll be reading in December. So, I’ll write a series of quick posts to give you the gist of them and my thoughts. Don’t expect polished English or deep analyses, quick-and-dirty will have to do. The series of short billets should be about:

  • Betty by Simenon,
  • Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville
  • Lightning Strikes by Ned Crabb
  • Cry, Mother Spain by Lydie Salvayre
  • Figurec by Fabrice Caro
  • Fatima ou les Algériennes au square by Leïla Sebbar

November is also the month of the most prestigious literary prizes in France. So, here are the winners for 2019. I haven’t read any of them because I can’t read books within libraries’ deadlines and I only buy paperbacks. So, here’s a sample of the prizes:

  • Prix Goncourt: Tous les hommes n’habitent pas le monde de la même façon by Jean-Paul Dubois. He’s a readable writer, I’ll probably get it next year.
  • Prix Goncourt des Lycéens : This is the Goncourt elected by high school students. I have a soft spot for prizes given by young readers. They have a fresh eye. They awarded the prize to Les Choses humaines by Karine Tuil, where the son of a well-known couple is accused of rape. The book shows how this shatters their lives.
  • Prix Femina: Par les routes by Sylvain Prudhomme.
  • Prix Interallié : Les Choses humaines by Karine Tuil. Yes, she won TWO prizes.
  • Prix Médicis : La Tentation by Luc Lang.
  • Prix Renaudot : La panthèse des neiges by Sylvain Tesson.

All seem accessible to mainstream readers and I like this idea. So, keep your eyes open they’ll probably make it into English translation.

Meanwhile, I’ll be writing vignettes about the books I read but never had time to write a billet about.

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  1. December 6, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Tesson has just had a second book appear in English, so his book will likely appear sometime. Unless the current one is a big flop.

    I liked the two that I have read.


    • December 6, 2019 at 8:25 am

      Which ones did you read?


      • December 6, 2019 at 4:55 pm

        I read Dans les forêts de Sibérie , which was full of his voice and humor, and one of those little €2 collections of his short stories. Plus I also saw his post-accident mountain-climbing movie, Octobre blanc.

        I will read more of the travel writing, and also more of his fiction if I get the chance. These are books I have to bring home from France.


        • December 6, 2019 at 11:20 pm

          I have to confess that I’ve never been tempted to read his books. Maybe I’ll give him a try.

          Let me know if you want me to send books.


  2. December 6, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I want to do an end of year list, but at this stage almost nothing I’ve read has a billet. Your approach seems a sensible one.


    • December 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      To be honest, I thought you’d given up on blogging.
      It would be nice to have you back.
      Maybe shorter billets are a good way to go.

      Btw I won a SF book, F. A. U. S. T. by Serge Lehman. Have you heard about it?


  3. December 6, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Not intentionally, though it’s rather worked out that way. I hope to find a way back to doing monthly updates at least and I certainly plan to do an end of year list.

    I don’t know that one. Is it comic SF? Stuff with acronyms often is for some reason.


    • December 6, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      I hope we’ll have the pleasure to discover your best of the year list and that you’ll keep us posted next year.

      Re-Faust: Not comic SF. Spy, economic SF and cyberpunk, according to the blurb.


      • December 6, 2019 at 5:49 pm

        Hm. Well, hopefully Faust will be good, I said doubtfully.


        • December 6, 2019 at 7:56 pm

          It has won several prizes and it’s published by a good publisher. So it should be OK. Not exactly my usual read but we’ll see.


          • December 9, 2019 at 3:58 pm

            Interesting. I’m usually a bit suspicious of books with acronyms as names as they’re often a bit wacky, but this clearly must be better than that. I’ll be interested to see your thoughts.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. December 6, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    I posted on the Salvayre novel last year. It was good to read such a powerful account of the atrocities of the Civil War from women’s perspective.


    • December 6, 2019 at 11:17 pm

      It was excellent, indeed. It was nice to have a woman’s point of view about that war.


  5. December 6, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    I’ll probably get the Dubois as well. I hadn’t heard of him prior to the Goncourt. There’s an interview of him on Apostrophes in which he seemed to me to have a particular sense of humor. So I’m looking forward. Tesson… I think he’s one of those writers who’s being heavily pushed on us readers. I don’t find him interesting.
    By the way, on the literary prizes, I recommend Marc Lambron’s Quarante Ans. Probably, my French book of this year. Though the book isn’t specifically about the literary prizes, yet because it’s his diary of 1997, the year in which his book was promoted for the Goncourt, you get a nice backstage pass to this world. I’m definitely plunging into more of his books as I very much appreciated his style.


    • December 6, 2019 at 11:19 pm

      I’ve read Une vie française, which I found ok and Kennedy et moi, which I really enjoyed. It was funny.

      I’m like you with Tesson, quite not interested in his books. Maybe I’m prejudiced and missing out but I’ve never been tempted.

      Thanks for the Lambron recommendation.


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