Author Jean-Paul Dubois takes France's highest literary honour, the Goncourt prize
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Author Jean-Paul Dubois, 69, has won France's highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, for his book, "Tous les hommes n'habitent pas le monde de la même façon" (Not all men inhabit the world in the same way).
Marcel Proust, Marguerite Duras and Simone de Beauvoir have all won the Goncourt Prize in the past.
The author’s 22nd book tells the story of Paul Hansen, who has spent two years in a Bordeaux prison.
The sad, nostalgic hero of his new book, "Tous les hommes n'habitent pas le monde de la même façon" (roughly translated as "All Men Do Not Inhabit This World in the Same Way") has roots in the southwestern French city of Toulouse where the author was born.
Hansen's life is destroyed by a moment of madness and he finds himself sharing a tiny cell in a Canadian jail with a Hells Angel who has threatened to "cut him in two" if he gets on the wrong side of him.
Yet the hulking thug is reduced to jelly by the sight of mice and a barber's scissors.
To keep himself sane, the narrator, Paul Hansen, talks to the dead in his head.
They include his late partner Winona, a half-Irish, half-Native American hydroplane pilot; his dog Nouk; his father, a Danish pastor, and his French mother who didn't think twice about showing porno films in her cinema despite being married to a clergyman.
'French John Irving'
The chairman of the Goncourt jury Bernard Pivot described Dubois as a French "John Irving or William Boyd", writing highly entertaining books that are both popular and critical successes.
Several French critics had hailed the novel as Dubois' best.
While Dubois gets only 10 euros ($11) for winning the Goncourt, the prize almost guarantees a boost in sales of 450,000 copies or more, placing it instantly among the year's top bestsellers.
Minutes after the Goncourt was announced, the Renaudot, often seen as the consolation prize, was handed to Sylvain Tesson for "The Snow Leopard", an account of his search in Tibet for one of the most endangered animals on the planet.
"I hope it will help us save and better understand these animals which have so much need of our help now," Tesson said.
"I feel like the rabbit who has been pulled out of a hat," he joked, or "a leopard in a world where order has been restored."
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)