The 2018 literary prizes: the must-read books

This year, are you more Goncourt? Flore? Renaudot? While the top literary prizes have just been awarded, discover which novel is made for you… A quick tour of the literary fashion week

The Prix Goncourt

Once upon a time, there was… The Prix Goncourt. It is to literature what the 3 stars are to the Michelin. A literary Grail that leads to the average sale of 300,000 novels in a few months. Since 1903, ten venerable writers (Bernard Pivot, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt…) gather every year to reward the best book of the year, live from the restaurant Drouant. Considered at some point as being a little fuddy-duddy, the Goncourt is back in the cool lane. To wit: the very rock'n'roll Virginie Despentes is now part of the daring academy which awarded the very controversial Lullaby by the young Leïla Slimani or The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaître.

Why you are going to adore the 2018 Goncourt. If you are a great fan of Romanesque novels, literary sagas around drop-out teens, if you liked the film The French Kissers by Riad Sattouf, no doubt: this novel is made for you. 1992. In Heillange, near Thionville, Anthony, a slightly pimply teen, does not have much to do during his summer holidays. He comes from a family of poor parents, victims of a forsaken region: “Men spoke very little and died young. Women concentrated on their hair colouring and looked at life with diminishing optimism.” Anthony falls in love with Steph, a young girl encouraged to go study in Paris. But how does one seduce a girl when one’s own destiny is reduced to inescapably reproducing the same life as one’s parents? With raw penmanship in the lines of Céline, Nicolas Mathieu, offers you a sociological picture with a thousand fascinating rebounds.

Leurs enfants après eux, Nicolas Mathieu, Actes Sud, €21.80

The Prix de Flore

Once upon a time, there was … the Prix de Flore. The story begins around a very liquid evening at the Café de Flore in May 1994, when Frédéric Beigbeder decides, along with his happy-go-lucky gang, to create an insolent and independent prize, a big party, washed down with Roederer bubbles. Twenty years later, the bad seed of the literary prizes highlights the top writers of a generation (Michel Houellebecq, Virginie Despentes, Nicolas Rey...) and continues to reward promising talent. As for the actual evening… It has become the most coveted party during the month of November in Paris.

Why you are going to adore the 2018 Prix Flore: because Raphaël Rupert and his novel Anatomie de l’amant de ma femme, you are (really) going to understand the links existing between sexuality and literature. When he reads the intimate diary of his wife, an architect with lack of inspiration discovers the hot, hot, hot details of her relation with a very virile lover.

At the same time vexed and stimulated, this husband seeking inspiration cannot help himself from developing a wild array of theories concerning Léon, this man outside the norm. A joyful novel with the marvellous penmanship of this 41-year-old urbanite.

Anatomie de l’amant de ma femme, Raphaël Rupert, Éditions de l’arbre vengeur, €14

The Prix Renaudot

Once upon a time, there was… the Prix Renaudot. The LOL version of literary prizes: the Renaudot, is most of all the story of a gang of totally bored and hungry journalists waiting for the results of the Prix Goncourt! And when your tummy is rumbling, what could be a better idea than creating your own literary prize, like a big anti-Goncourt jest? “Ok, let’s crown a fun book”, exclaimed one of the journalists in 1926. But the best jokes are the shortest ones and against all expectations, the Renaudot soon became a fierce competitor of its elder, big bro Goncourt. The proof, it was the first to award Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

Why you are going to adore the 2018 Renaudot: Big surprise for the author: her book was not even listed for the last Renaudot! In her book Le Sillon, Valérie Manteau departs on the tracks of the fascinating Hrank Dink, an Armenian journalist assassinated in 2007. While strolling through Istanbul, the former chronicler of Charlie Hebdo tells the story of a narrator who is seeking out the life of this journalist killed in Turkey. Gracious and light penmanship for a novel that deals with heavy duty issues!

Le Sillon, Valérie Manteau, Le tripode, €17

Héloïse Goy

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