REPORT – Le Figaro he was in Drouant during the announcement of the Goncourt Award, awarded to Nicolas Mathieu for the second novel Children after them (Actes Sud) and Renaudot to Valérie Manteau for The Sillon (Tripod).
The taxi doors open. The foot is barely on the ground, here is surrounded by a horde of poles, cameras and microphones. Nicolas Mathieu has just won the Goncourt 2018 award for his second novel Children after them (South Acts). His successor is Eric Vuillard The agenda (South Acts). Nicolas Mathieu does not believe it. All smiles, goes to the restaurant Drouant, located near the Paris Opera. "I'm happy, stupid and irritated, confiding in a few minutes after coronation, it's the beginning of a new life that begins, even though my job is not to win prizes, but to write." But it was not written. Nicolas Mathieu was not a favorite among literary critics.
Twenty minutes earlier, Virginie Despentes is leaning over the window of the plant with a cigarette in his hand and playing
still a secret. "Yes? Who is this? The member of the jury, Goncourt, smiles and mocks the impatient, and soon Bernard Pivot joins her, delighted to see such an uncouth audience, some on the ground floor making their predictions and hesitating. "It's hard this year. There are very good books, especially Diop – commented the reader, always at the meeting for six years. But at 12:45, as promised, waiting was over.
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"This is the last manifestation of France that is disappearing"
Juror Goncourt, Didier Decoin, gray suit and blue shirt, restaurant stairs to meet journalists. After the announcement of the name of Nicolas Mathieu, the crowd utters a satisfied "Ah". We even hear "bravo!" In the distance. Then the Renaudot award was awarded to Valérie Manteau The Sillon (Tripod). She manages to Olivier Guez The disappearance of Josef Mengele (Grasset). The jury also awarded a special prize for Philippe & # 39; and Lançona Lambeau (Gallimard), who has already won the Femina award.
Put now for lunch. On the menu: haddock and caviar, crabmeal, ground fillet, hazel-nut game and pan-fried foie gras, brie de Meaux with truffles. Finally, for dessert, Pear Belle-Hélène. At the moment, both judges decide to express their choice regarding the selection of the laureate. Not much time to taste their entrance. Journalists enter the waves. Each turn. The rest of the cameras must wait patiently on the ground floor, in the company of the so-called "swallows", i.e. an ordinary plate with blades.
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Everyone is delighted with the new Prix Goncourt. Virginie Despentes emphasizes the writing of Nicolas Mathieu, "his social chronicle paints France, which we're not talking about. It's very Zola, nothing is overrated." I think it's the last manifestation of France that is disappearing, while Pierre Assouline recognizes "contemporary history" which corresponds on "very current questions." However, he regretted that Diop, author Brother of the soul (Threshold), it has not been distinguished. For his part, Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt evokes a "sensual novel with real writing." He explains exactly his growing up and his fury. "He hopes that" Goncourt's sign will allow him to be translated abroad. "
"The book Valérie Manteau is a very good choice, which goes primarily to young people"
While Nicolas Mathieu arrives under a wave of praise, Paul Constant does not refrain from recalling his preferences for Paul Greveillac and his novels Masters and slaves (Gallimard) However, it is believed that it is "satisfied" and recognizes the writer's work. "After their children speaks of despair, the French provinces, which abandoned industrialization. Emmanuel Macron should read a novel by Nicolas Mathieu, who is currently tracking areas wounded by war and unemployment.
On the side of Renaudot, the jury is equally enthusiastic. But Valerie Manteau, who appeared in the penultimate price list, will not be part of the lunch. He's in Marseille. We still want to greet the author and his book The Sillon (Tripod). "It is a very good choice, which goes primarily to young people," says Renaudot Dominique Bona, a student and member of the award. "This is his second book, but the first novel, the magazine is very much appreciated by the jury." Thanks to this journey she is proposing to Istanbul, she comes in a naive tone that her character allows us to understand the beauty and cruelty of this city. " We wanted to distinguish nice writing and at the same time, thanks to this award, discover a new author. "
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On the Goncourt side, congratulations to the laureate. Virginie Despentes is one of her first devotees. "Valérie Manteau has a completely sincere letter to which I immediately join in. I like his way of painting Turkey, he tells in this book what might happen in France tomorrow, that is autocratic power, violence on the street. We can all become targets. "
With this new award, Académie Goncourt re-identifies Actes Sud. Jérôme Ferrari in 2012, Mathias Enard in 2015, Éric Vuillard in 2017, and currently Nicolas Mathieu. When it comes to Tripod releases, for the first time one of their authors receives the Renaudot award.