Literary season 2021: our favorites for the prizes

Among the hundreds of novels published in this literary season 2021, only a few have the honor of being selected for the Goncourt, Renaudot, and Femina awards. Here are our favorites.

Christine Angot, “The Journey to the East”

Another look at his trauma. Christine Angot signs a new book over which she returns to a theme already mentioned many times in her previous books: the incest of which she was a victim. In this powerful novel, entitled “Le Voyage dans l’Est” (Ed. Flammarion), the 62-year-old author soberly recreates his relationship with his incestuous father. She tells how this brilliant translator at the Council of Europe, who, after having deserted before she was even born, and whom she wanted to love, abused her between the age of 13 and 16. But here, unlike “L’Inceste” (ed. Stock), which appeared twenty years ago, the pen is calmer and the chronology of the acts suffered more precise. Without pathos, she describes the incestuous domination of her attacker, her verbal bludgeoning to justify their relationship, the difficulty of saying “no”, of alerting, but also the willful blindness of her mother, the silence of the people around her. . The whole, by digging several points of view: that of the child, the teenager, and the young adult who tries somehow to rebuild himself.

Christine Angot, “Le Voyage dans l’Est”, (ed. Flammarion), in the running for the Femina and Goncourt prize.

François Noudelmann, “The Children of Cadillac”

In this first novel, François Noudelmann, who lives and works in New York (United States), questions his French identity through three generations of men from the same family. In the course of this personal and historical account, remarkably well written, the author returns first of all to the fate of his grandfather, Chaïm. The latter joined France in a trailer to escape persecution against Jews in Lithuania. He then took part in the Great War before being interned and forgotten in the psychiatric hospital of Cadillac, in Gironde. It is between these walls that his grandfather, gone mad because of mustard gas, breathed his last in anonymity. We then discover the incredible and fascinating story of his father, Albert, born French, who in 1940 was taken prisoner and denounced by his comrades as a Jew. Routes that lead the author to question the question of identity, transmission, and heritage.

François Noudelmann, “Les Enfants de Cadillac”, (ed. Gallimard), in the running for the Femina and Goncourt prizes.

Amélie Nothomb, “First Blood”

In the name of the Father. With her new and thirtieth novel, called “Premier sang” and published like all the others by Albin Michel, Amélie Nothomb pays homage, in a touching and quirky way, to the father figure. After having had the nerve to make Jesus Christ speak in the first person, in “Soif” (ed. Albin Michel), the lady with the hat puts herself in the skin of her father, Patrick, who died of cancer the year before. last, the first day of confinement. For the duration of a book, the Belgian writer thus brings it back to life by telling her story. That of a little boy, abandoned by his mother and raised by his grandparents, who became a diplomat, then was sent on a mission to the Congo in 1964. Over there, in Stanleyville (now Kisangani), his father, this lover of letters, this hero, will be the victim of a hostage-taking, his first encounter with death. But which he escaped. This book in the form of a tale is undoubtedly one of the most personal of the sales champion.

Amélie Nothomb, “Premier Sang”, (ed. Albin Michel), in the running for the Renaudot prize.

Agnès Desarthe, “The Eternal Bridegroom”

An impossible story. In “The Eternal Fiancé” (éd. L’Olivier), Agnès Desarthe plunges the reader into the intimacy of a woman, who endlessly crosses her first love. It all started when she was 4 years old, during a music class. Etienne fell under the spell of his “round eyes”, but the narrator did not like him “because of his crooked hair”. Since that day, this failed meeting, their trajectories will not cease to intertwine. At college, at a contemporary art exhibition, in a jewelry store, in a street in Paris, the newspaper … But reunions are sometimes painful. Because time passes, and memory crumbles. Years later, she loves him passionately and secretly, but his prince charming has meanwhile forgotten his first name, and is desired by all women. A story of great accuracy, funny, lively and melancholy, which gives food for thought about existence, the consequences of our choices, and the feelings, which we believe to be eternal.

Agnès Desarthe, “The Eternal Fiancé”, ed. L’Olivier, in the running for the Goncourt and Renaudot awards.

Anne Berest, “The postcard”

An anonymous postcard on which appears the first names of four of her ancestors, who died at Auschwitz in 1942. This is the starting point of Anne Berest’s novel, entitled “The postcard” (ed. Grasset). In January 2003, the mother of the novelist and playwright found this card, on which appears on one side the Opéra Garnier, and on the other, the first names of the grandparents of her mother, her aunt and her uncle. Twenty years later, with the help of a private detective and a criminologist, she tries to unveil the identity of the transmitter. And she succeeded. But the journey is more important than the destination. Anne Berest suggests returning to this investigation, the romantic fate of the Rabinovichs, their flight from Russia, their trip to Latvia then to Palestine, and finally their arrival in Paris, with the war. Through this 500-page book, which traces a century of history, the author brings his ancestors to life while questioning the meaning of the word “Jew” in a secular life.

Anne Berest, “The postcard”, ed. Grasset, in contention for the Renaudot, Goncourt, and Femina prizes.

David Diop, “The door to the Voyage of No Return”

Winner of the Goncourt high school student prize in 2018 and of the prestigious International Booker Prize in 2021, for “Soul brother” (ed. Seuil), David Diop signs a new documented and captivating novel. This one is baptized “The Door of the voyage without return” (ed. Seuil), the nickname given to the island of Goree, from where millions of African slaves left. In this work, his third, the writer plunges the reader into the middle of the 18th century, drawing inspiration from the figure of the naturalist Michel Adanson. At the age of 23, the latter left to explore Senegal to make a name for himself in botany. But his expedition is not limited to the study of local flowers, as evidenced by his secret notebooks, discovered by his daughter in a drawer with double bottom. Through an impossible love story, so heavy are the prejudices and the incompatible cultures, the narrator is confronted with colonization and the horror of slavery. Between history and fiction, this novel, populated by endearing characters, is a sublime odyssey that confronts the universalist values ​​of the Enlightenment and the slave trade.

David Diop, “The Door of the No Return Journey”, ed. Threshold, in contention for the Goncourt prize.

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