Our Favorites Among This Year’s French Literary Awards

French literary awards have certainly been in the spotlight these past weeks. We do not have much to add besides the fact that the choices this year are outstanding examples of what literature does at its best: telling excellent stories in stellar prose. We can’t wait to hear your opinions on these!

Reading List

L'Anomalie by Hervé Le Tellier

2020 Goncourt Award for French Fiction

L’Anomalie  should be read in one sitting, like a wonderful adventure novel where the reader holds their breath between tears and laughter. Are we truly unique? Or are we just doubles of ourselves? Characters in search of existence? This crowd of characters offers so many different opportunities for Le Tellier to explore a vast array of different literary genres: from the thriller to the intimate novel, from the love story to the bildungsroman, by way of the adventure/catastrophe novel and science fiction. Read more.

L’Anomalie, a novel by Hervé Le Tellier, Gallimard
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Nature Humaine by Serge Joncour

2020 Femina Prize for French Fiction

Even the most urban-centric people in contemporary France remember the two natural events that form the backdrop of Serge Joncour’s latest novel: the drought of 1976 and the great windstorms of 1999.
Joncour brings to life the transformations of the French countryside between these two decades through the story of a family of farmers–particularly that of Alexandre, the son who takes over the farm with mixed enthusiasm when his three sisters move to the city. Read more.

Nature Humaine, a novel by Serge Joncour, Flammarion
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Histoire du Fils by Marie-Hélène Lafon

Marie-Hélène Lafon only needs twelve days to tell us the story of André Leoty–who is raised by his aunt in the village of Figeac in the Lot.
André’s mother lives alone in Paris and his father–a brilliant lawyer–has gone. This absence, as well as an unusual drama, are the driving force of this narrative that is as masterful as it is powerful.

Like the rural world whose evolution she sketches out so admirably, Marie-Hélène Lafon has a taste for reserve, precise language, and silence. Staggeringly beautiful.

Histoire du fils, a novel by Marie-Hélène Lafon, Buchet-Chastel.
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Le Coeur synthétique by Chloé Delaume

2020 Medicis Prize for French Fiction

“Men might die younger, and yet, they do live longer” Chloe Delaume could have made this quote by Camille Laurens her own (Who You Think I Am, Other Press).
This flagrant injustice fuels the novel with a combative energy, sustained by an 80s rock/pop soundtrack.
But Delaume refuses to give into easy melancolia, and Le Coeur synthétique is a joyful celebration of life after 45, an ode to women and the power of friendship, and an invitation to rebel against patriarchal order. Read more.

Le Coeur synthétique
, a novel by Chloé Delaume, Seuil.

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La petite dernière by Fatima Daas

2020Les Inrocks Prize for Debut Novel

Can a great novel be poorly written? This is a question one regularly comes across in interviews with authors (particularly in the always interesting New York Times “By The Book” series). For me, the answer has always been a resounding yes. I will gladly take an original somewhat roughly written book over an unoriginal pristinely written one any day of the week.
For a case in point, look no further than “em>La petite dernière by Fatima Daas–a debut author whose first book has been making waves and generating controversy in France since its publication last month. Read more

La petite dernière, a debut novel by Fatima Daas
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Other recommendations by Albertine Team