Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Concerns grow as hobby drone use increases

Read more

WEB NEWS

Buffalo residents share stunning images of the snowstorm

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Senegalese photographer's flashbacks to Africans throughout history

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Hollande photographed with Julie Gayet on Elysée Palace balcony

Read more

REVISITED

Is Beirut still haunted by ghosts of the civil war?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Band Aid 30 - Hit or Miss? Bob Geldof in Hot Water over Ebola Single

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Deal or No Deal with Iran? Home Stretch to Reach Historic Agreement

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Football scandals: The ugly side of the beautiful game

Read more

#THE 51%

Ending violence against women: The dangers of trial by Twitter

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)