Writer Herve Le Tillier won the prestigious French literary Goncourt Prize on Monday 30 November 2020 for his novel "Lanomaly", following a video ceremony for the first time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. </p><div> <p>Le Tillier, 63, a mathematician and former journalist and president of the Olibo Literary Association, received eight votes to two for "L'Estoreograph de Roium" by Mayle Renoir, one of the four novelists in the final competition.
The award was awarded through the closed circuit by video, as each member of the jury stayed at his home, to be absent this year from the scene of deliberations at the table and journalists jostling when the winner arrived.
The name of the Goncourt prize winner was announced 48 hours after the libraries reopened.
Even before the winner was announced, the name Herve Le Tillier was among the most popular for this prestigious reward among the literary-affairs journalists polled by the specialized monthly magazine “Livre Hebdo”, including an AFP journalist.
“We never expect to win a prize like Goncourt. We do not write with the aim of getting it at the beginning, nor can we imagine winning it,” said the winning novelist in a video message alongside his book publisher Antoine Gallimard, owner of Gallimard.
“Lanomaly”, which is the eighth of Herve Le Tillier’s novels, revolves around the consequences of a strange event represented in the running of two flights between Paris and New York that happened to carry the same passengers with a time difference of no more than a few months.
The novel brilliantly blends different genres, including black fiction, classic literary narration, and science fiction.
“The idea is that since Trump is present and he is the cause of the destruction of the world, the book’s view revolves around presenting another version of the world in which Biden is president,” Le Tillier said.
“This book will please many in the world because we live in a phase that is not pleased with the heart as everyone knows. This book will delight many. Thank you for writing it,” commented Tahar Ben Jelloun, a French writer of Moroccan origin, in a video link.
</div> The other three writers in the final competition were Mayel Renoir (Dar "Gracie") and the Cameroonian Djaili Amadou Amal with "Lesbasciant" (House of Emmanuel Colas) and Cami de Toledo with "Tizi, Sa Nouvel in" (House of "Verdier").
The head of the Goncourt Committee, Didier Ducuan, expressed his hope that this novel would be given the opportunity to achieve a wider spread by adapting it in a series or a movie.
“It is true that the story has a real cinematic dimension,” said Herve Le Tillier, adding, “I would not be upset if I saw this book embodied on the screen.”
– Interests before literary quality?
A few minutes after the winner of the Goncourt prize was announced, the Ronodeau Literary Prize was also awarded to Mary Ellen Lafon for her novel Estoire du Fais (House of Bouchet-Chastelle), which spanned a century between 1908 and 2008.
The protagonist, Andre, who is being raised by his aunt, discovers a family secret while exploring his family lineage. The author, Dominique Fortier, also won the Ronodeau Prize for Literary Essay for her book “Le Ville de Papier” (House of Grassier).
Despite the closure measures currently in place, the announcement of the literary prizes this year was also accompanied by skepticism related to impartiality. In an investigation published on Saturday, the New York Times condemned what it considered defects in the performance of the French literary committees, which the newspaper said showed their interests in literary quality and chose novels that were difficult to understand from the audience. This criticism concerns the RENAULT Prize more than the Goncourt.
These two awards, which are supervised by committees of volunteers, do not generate any material gain for the winners, as the value of the financial reward for the winner of the Goncourt is limited to 10 euros, while the winner of the Renault Prize does not receive a penny.
But the two awards have economic dimensions that are extremely important to writers and publishers, as they attract the interest of tens and even hundreds of thousands of readers.
The composition of the Goncourt Prize jury changed, as journalist Bernard Bivou left the presidency of the Academy at the end of 2019, and novelist Virginie Depant resigned in early 2020. He joined Pascal Bruckner and Cami Lorenz.
In 2019, Jean-Paul Dubois won the Goncourt Prize for his novel “Not all people in the world live the same way”. As for the Ronodo Awards, the jury selected Silvan Tyson’s novel “La Panettiere de Neige” and Erik Neuehoff’s essay “Trey Share Cinema France.”