Two women, two men and very different stories. The Goncourt Prize jury selected four novels as finalists for its 2022 edition, those by Giuliano da Empoli, Brigitte Giraud, Cloé Korman and Makenzy Orcel, he announced this Tuesday in Beirut.
With “The Mage of the Kremlin” (Gallimard), a novel released in April, the Italian-Swiss Giuliano da Empoli recounts the journey of a fictitious advisor to Vladimir Putin, an opportunity to look back on the history of Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union. In “Live fast” (Flammarion), Brigitte Giraud evokes the last days of her husband, killed in a motorcycle accident in 1999, and the aftermath of this tragedy.
Cloe Korman, with “The Almost Sisters” (Seuil), signs an investigation into child victims of the Shoah, cousins of his father. In September, the Minister of National Education Pap Ndiaye was delighted that his “advisor in charge of speeches had been chosen in the first selection”.
Finally, the Haitian Makenzy Orcel, in “A Human Sum” (Rivages), makes a woman inhabited by poetry and violence speak from beyond the grave, over 600 pages in an abundant and uninterrupted language. Already in 2021, another Haitian, Louis-Philippe Dalembert, was a finalist with “Milwaukee Blues”. But it’s the Senegalese Mohamed Mbougar Sarr who wonwith “The most secret memory of men”.
The jury eliminated two titles which seemed favorites at the time of the literary season, “The Clandestine Life” by Monica Sabolo and “The heart does not give in” by Grégoire Bouillier. The prestigious prize must be presented, as tradition dictates, at the Drouant restaurant in Paris on November 3.
The choice of Beirut criticized
The announcement was made in Beirut as part of the first edition of a literary festival organized by the French Institute in this large French-speaking city and in which the Goncourt Academy participated. It was made from the residence of the French ambador, Anne Grillo, by the president of the Académie Goncourt, Didier Decoinin front of hand-picked guests.
The latter slipped “a very sincere word of thanks” to his host. “We’re good here,” he said. This was not the opinion other prize jurors, who chose to stay in Paris due to the hostility of the Lebanese authorities. The programming of the Beirut Books festival has in fact displeased the Lebanese Minister of Culture Mohammad Mourtada, close to the Shiite Amal movement, an ally of the powerful pro-Iranian group Hezbollah. He announced on October 8, in a since-withdrawn press release, that he “will not allow [t] not for Zionists to come among us and spread the venom of Zionism in Lebanon.”
In response, the French Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Pascal Bruckner and Pierre ouline, and the Franco-Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun gave up the trip. “I would not feel safe in this country where murder is quite easy,” Tahar Ben Jelloun declared on France Inter radio on Monday. The latter is one of the many targets of Israel’s enemies because of his positions for better understanding between Arabs and Jews, and his criticism of the systematic boycott of Israel.
Françoise Chandernagor and Patrick Rambaud having also declined the invitation, four members of the Academy were on site: in addition to Didier Decoin, the secretary Philippe Claudel, and two jurors, Camille Laurens and Paule Constant. A French writer of Lebanese origin, Sélim Nib, had also renounced Beirut Livres, saying in a press release that he was “deeply disgusted” by the minister’s comments.