The family story on the transmission of the memory of the Holocaust of the French novelist, at the heart of a controversy in the Parisian literary community, was crowned this Saturday in New York.
The account of the Holocaust and the Jewish roots of the French writer Anne Berest, Postcardat the heart of a controversy in the Parisian literary community, won the first American version Goncourt prize in New York on Saturday.
The most prestigious of the French literary prizes has become international with “Goncourt prize selections” in 25 countries that must be decided between university students in French and Francophone literature. For the first time in the United States, the Académie Goncourt unveiled the “Goncourt United States Choice” on Saturday during a ceremony in Manhattan, at the cultural services of the French Embassy, chaired by the writer Siri Hustvedt surrounded by a jury of students from Yale, Princeton, Harvard, New York and Duke universities. These perfectly bilingual young people – Americans, French and other nationalities – studied in French the nine books of the final selection of the Goncourt 2021, won in November by the Senegalese Mohamed Mbougar Sarr for The most secret memory of men (Editions Philippe Rey).
By awarding the Goncourt, in its American version, to Anne Berest for Postcard (Grasset), Siri Hustvedt – novelist, poet, essayist – underlined “the enormous importance that French literature had for (oneself) developing as a human being and a writer”.
” Postcard interesting for an American public who would not know in detail the history of the Collaboration in France”
Léa Jouannais, doctoral student at Yale, member of the jury
“The future lies in young generations around the world who read, are curious and dynamic, and literature is a vital tool for forging pluralism, tolerance and democracy at a time when these principles are seriously threatened”, argued the New York intellectual. The choice of the students of the American universities fell by “consensus” on Postcardexplained to AFP one of the jurors, Léa Jouannais, doctoral student at Yale.
This family story on the transmission of the memory of the Holocaust is “interesting for an American public who would not know in detail the history of the Collaboration in France, the way in which the Jews were treated in France during the Second World War“, estimated the student for whom the book, which will be translated into English, enlightens “the current issue of anti-Semitism in France.»
In the fall of 2021, Postcard et The Cadillac Children by François Noudelmann, two books dealing with the history of a Jewish family, were at the heart of a controversy in the Parisian literary milieu: Camille Laurens, juror of Goncourt, had made a very severe criticism in The world of the story of Anne Berest, while she was the companion of François Noudelmann. As a result, the Académie Goncourt had declared ineligible “the works of the spouses, companions or close relatives of the members of the jury“. The Prix Femina had also discarded the two books.