Prix ​​Goncourt 2021: more than 9 novels in the running and new rules

“Just an update” : As Jakie Quartz sang so well, this is the atmosphere that was more or less to reign during this new meeting of the Goncourt jurors in Drouant, this Tuesday, October 5, to establish their second selection. Because a certain tension hovered since the revelations of France Inter. On September 21, the journalist Ilana Moryoussef indeed indicated that François Noudelmann, selected on the first list of the prize for “the Children of Cadillac” (Gallimard), was none other than the companion of Camille Laurens, one of the jurors. To make matters worse, Camille Laurens had signed in “the World of Books” a murderous criticism of “the Postcard” by Anne Berest, a novel with a theme close to that of Noudelmann, namely the fate of a Jewish lineage during WWII.

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The jury, which took the opportunity to meet to organize an extraordinary general assembly, adopted new rules to prevent such a situation from happening again. From now on, “The works of the spouses, companions or close relatives of the members of the jury cannot be accepted”. What’s more : “To respect the secrecy of the vote, including their own vote, the members of the jury who maintain a literary column in a media refrain from reviewing the works which appear in the selection as long as these works appear therein. ” And we swear to be vigilant: “Any member who fails to meet these obligations would be considered as having resigned as of right. ” In fact, according to these new rules, which took effect at the end of the vote (” unanimously “, we specify), the novel by François Noudelmann was ousted from the race. Anne Berest’s is still on the second list.

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This one has nine novels – and no eight as expected, a sign that the jury undoubtedly had other problems to settle. Several heavyweights have been dismissed: Philippe Jaenada with his “Spring of the monsters” (Mialet-Barrault), Maria Pourchet, including “Feu” (Fayard) still competes in December, Interallié and Renaudot, and David Diop, just winner of the prestigious International Booker Prize for his novel “Brothers of soul”. Remain in the running Christine Angot, who upsets with the story of her incest in “the Voyage in the East” (Flammation), Agnès Desarthe, who weaves memories, trials and doubts in “The Eternal Fiancé” (Olive Tree), Clara Dupont-Monod and “To adapt” (Stock), his beautiful book on his disabled brother, Louis-Philippe Dalembert and “Milwaukee Blues” (Sabine Wespieser) inspired by the assassination of George Floyd, and Tanguy Viel, who staged in the excellent “The Girl Called” (Midnight) a mayor who tries to obtain sexual favors thanks to his statute – which is reminiscent of the Darmanin affair.

Add to this the record holder for nominations for the autumn grand prix: Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, who appears on six lists including those of Goncourt, Femina and Renaudot with “The most secret memory of men” (Philippe Rey), closely followed by Abel Quentin with “Le Voyant d’Etampes” (The Observatory), novel on the popular theme of “wokism” (4 lists). The four finalists will be announced on October 26. And meet on November 3 at Drouant to find out who will succeed Hervé Le Tellier, including “L’Anomalie” (Gallimard) has become an absolute bestseller.

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The 9 novels selected for the 2021 Goncourt Prize

  • The Journey to the East, by Christine Angot (Flammarion)
  • Postcard, by Anne Berest (Grasset)
  • Son of a bastard, by Sorj Chalandon (Grasset)
  • Milwaukee Blues, by Louis-Philippe Dalembert (Sabine Wespieser)
  • The Eternal Bridegroom, by Agnès Desarthe (Olive Tree)
  • Adapt, by Clara Dupont-Monod (Stock)
  • The Seer of Etampes, Abel Quentin (The Observatory)
  • The most secret memory of men, by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Philippe Rey)
  • The Girl we call, by Tanguy Viel (ed. of Midnight)

Renaudot Prize 2021: the first list includes 16 novels and 10 essays

To note : Académie Goncourt is now made up of Didier Decoin (president), Pierre Assouline, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Pascal Bruckner, Françoise Chandernagor, Philippe Claudel, Paule Constant, Camille Laurens, Patrick Rambaud and Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt.

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Also note: most of these books have been, or will soon be, reviewed in the literary pages of “The Obs”. And the latest literary award news can be found there.

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Prix ​​Goncourt 2021: more than 9 novels in the running and new rules

Hank Gilbert