They were sixteen on the starting line. They are only eight novelists vying for the Goncourt 2021 with perfect respect for parity since there are four men and four women. The most popular of all? Without doubt Christine Angot who in The trip to the East, tells the story of the rapes she suffered at the hands of her father, a trauma already the origin of Incest in 1999 and A week of vacation in 2012. At 62 years old, will this controversial figure of French literature finally know the consecration by winning the most prestigious literary prizes?
On her way, she still has several opponents of choice, starting with Anne Berest, at the heart of a controversy which she would have done well. His latest book, Postcard, which tells the story of a family history marked by the Shoah, was indeed dezinced in the columns of the World by novelist Camille Laurens, member of the Goncourt jury, a few days after the publication of the list of 16 finalists. An unusual departure from the regulations of the prestigious academy that its president, Didier Decoin, has publicly deplored.
The companion of a juror removed from the list
In the list unveiled this Tuesday, however, we do not find The Children of Cadillac, the book by François Noudelmann which France Inter revealed last week that he was none other than the companion of the same Camille Laurens. “It wasn’t a reason to penalize a good book“, Didier Decoin justified at the station microphone. The fact remains that the affair caused a great stir. And that the rest of the history of Goncourt 2021 will be written without him.
Albert-Londres Prize in 1988, the writer and journalist Sorj Chalandon is undoubtedly the most capped of the last eight novelists competing this year. In Bastard’s Child, published by Grasset, it interweaves his personal story – that of a mythomaniac and violent father – with a major historical event, the trial of Klaus Barbie in 1987.
A noir novel inspired by the Darmanin affair?
Will the 2021 Goncourt winner be a trendy outsider? It could then be Abel Quentin whose Etampes’ seer is a corrosive satire of the cancel culture through the portrait of a professor accused of racism, somewhere between Michel Houellebecq and Philip Roth. Or Tanguy Viel who in The one we call (Editions de Minuit), shows the sexual influence exerted by a local elected official on a young woman looking for accommodation. A real false noir novel which strangely echoes the Darmanin affair …
Agnès Desarthe with The eternal bridegroom (L’Olivier) Clara Dupont-Monod with S’adapter (Stock), Louis-Philippe Dalembert with Milwaukee Blues (Sabine Wespiser) and the youngest Mohamed Mbougar Sarr with The most secret of memories (Philippe Rey) complete this list which will be reduced to four titles on October 26 before the revelation of the winner on November 3. Last year is The Anomalies by Hervé Le Tellier who won the Goncourt, with more than 1 million copies sold, becoming the second best-selling Goncourt after The Lover by Marguerite Duras.
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