Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Dublin courts post-Brexit business

Read more

FOCUS

Afghanistan's national unity government faces political deadlock

Read more

REPORTERS

World War I: When northern France was on German time

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Mixed reactions to historic Colombia peace deal

Read more

ENCORE!

The adventures of Hergé: Tintin's creator in the limelight

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Carmakers rev up for Paris Motor Show

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Paris Motor Show gets into gear

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Between darkness and fear: Bombs rain down in Aleppo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shimon Peres: From Hawk to Dove

Read more

Culture

Biology teacher wins top French literary prize

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-02

High school biology teacher Alexis Jenni (pictured) on Wednesday won France's top literary award, the Prix Goncourt. The adventure story, a reflection on France's colonial history in Indochina and Algeria, is Jenni's first novel.

AFP - High-school biology teacher Alexis Jenni on Wednesday won France's top literary award, the Goncourt Prize, for his first novel, "L'art francais de la guerre" (The French Art of War).

The prize was announced by the Goncourt panel of literary bigwigs at the chic Drouant restaurant in Paris.

The adventure story, a reflection on the heritage of France's colonial history in Indochina and Algeria, beat stiff competition from authors including Haiti's Lyonel Trouillot.

"This is a rare book by a writer who will leave his mark, a completely disconcerting book, an unexpected book on this particular subject handled in this way," said the Goncourt jury's president Edmonde Charles-Roux.

Jenni, 48, is the antithesis of last year's provocative winner, France's best-known living writer Michel Houellebecq, who won for his bestselling satire "La carte et le territoire" (The Map and the Territory).

"Ever since I completed my studies 20 years ago, I've written several things that didn't work," Jenni said. "So I said to myself that I would always remain a Sunday writer, just as there are Sunday painters."

"I'm extremely proud and happy to go like that from my first novel to this prestigious prize. This is the recognition of five years of work," Jenni said, admitting he never dreamed of winning the coveted award.

"I didn't even think that I would be published, so I could hardly dream of the Goncourt. I was a little resigned to anonymity," he said.

"But it's not because you don't do concerts that you can't play the piano."

Jenni sent his 700-page manuscript to only one publisher, Gallimard, who swiftly agreed to publish the book, which has already sold more than 56,000 copies.

He said he had no intention of giving up his job teaching biology at a high school in the eastern city of Lyon and he would see what his pupils had to say about the prize.

Books that win the coveted Goncourt Prize go on to sell on average 400,000 copies.

Date created : 2011-11-02

  • LITERATURE

    Michel Houellebecq wins France’s top literary award

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Goncourt prize winner NDiaye stands by Sarkozy 'police state' comments

    Read more

  • LITERATURE

    NDiaye becomes first black woman to win top French book award

    Read more

COMMENT(S)