Goncourt List – Romania’s choice prize goes to Pauline Delabroy-Allard’s novel ‘Ça raconte Sarah‘
‘A debut novel, with an extraordinary literary force which asks questions that also concern the Romanian society directly’. This is the conclusion of the students from 7 Romanian universities who decided that the winner of the 6th edition of the Liste Goncourt – Le choix roumain – Goncourt List – Romania’s choice is Pauline Delabroy-Allard’s novel ‘Ça raconte Sarah‘ (Stories Sarah tells) published by the Editions de minuit publishers in 2018. The winner of the 2018 Liste Goncourt – Le choix roumain was announced in a press conference organized by the French Institute in Bucharest.
Michèle Ramis, the French ambassador to Romania, Hélène Roos, advisor for cooperation and cultural action with the French Embassy and director of the French Institute in Romania, François-Henri Désérable, the honorary president of the jury representing France, the winner of the 2017 Liste Goncourt – Le choix roumain, Simona Sora, a writer and honorary president of the jury representing Romania as well as Despina Jderu, the representative of the students’ jury, were among the participants.
Andrei Popov, the French Institute’s representative in charge of communication gave us more details: “This is an event which, in its 6 years of existence, has gathered and is still gathering more and more young people in its jury. It is an event dedicated to young people and literature, an event that launched important French authors on the Romanian market, some of them very young. Authors that have come to the forefront and that are enjoying great success with the readers.”
The project Liste Goncourt – Le choix roumain has been held since 2013 under the patronage of the Goncourt Academy, and it involves students of the Faculties of French language and literature from the most important universities in Romania, from Brasov, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Craiova, Iasi, Sibiu and Timisoara. For two months, the students’ representatives read, analyze and debate, at regional and then at national level, all the 15 books in the Goncourt List.
Despina Jderu, the representative of the students’ jury, will give us more details: “It is for the 2nd time that I am the president of this jury, I was the jury president last year as well. I have been part of this project for 3 years already. I have participated alongside my students from the French high school in a similar project called Observer Lyceum. It is an extraordinary version of the French Goncourt des Lycéens. If I were to make a comparison, I would say that both juries were very knowledgeable and discussions had a very high standard. I believe that bringing these young people together, motivating them and offering them several guidelines was very easy. Both from my perspective as a representative of the University of Bucharest and a student pursuing a doctoral programme in contemporary French literature, as part of the Goncourt judging panel, but also in my capacity as a high-school teacher, who has always encouraged high school students to read, as part in the Observator Lyceum judging panel. What it seems to me was more difficult with those pupils and students whose reading level is very high and who made literature their passion, was, as part of both judging panels, to pick up a few titles. As in both contests they had very good books to judge on. Both the Goncourt Prize and the Observator Lyceum Award entail, over and above anything else, an exceptional critical exercise. And those who were on the judging panel have already made a name for themselves in the literary field, they read a lot of contemporary literature, they take part in colloquia on contemporary literature. It is one of the reasons prompting me to believe the literary future sounds very good.”
The Goncourt prize – Romania’s Choice has had five editions now. It has contributed to the affirmation of a string of new critical voices, specializing in contemporary French literature and in the Francophone literatures of today, creating expectations on the part of the readers, persuading publishers to place their bets on those authors. All winners of the five previous editions of the Goncourt Prize – Romania’s Choice have been translated and have seen their books brought out by leading publishers in Romania.
Speaking about that, here is French Institute PR representative Andrei Popov: “What is most delightful for me about this event is that youngsters, about whom people say they don’t read any more and don’t seem to be interested in literature any more, are, on the contrary, very keen on what is written today. Their commentaries and opinions on the books they analyzed are absolutely surprising. The maturity I detected in their reviews and they way they accounted for their choice are extraordinary. From the bottom of my heart, I believe the project will carry on and a growing number of youngsters will get involved in it.”
“It is a love story which is at once sensual and violent. Sarah’s emergence is the author’s life literally floods the first part of the book with an unleashed energy and passion, while the second part of the novel presents the drama the narrator unsuccessfully tried to snap out of. It is a bold novel, it is a book that keeps you on your toes”, that is how the Romanian judging panel accounting for their choice this year.