REPORT – Le Figaro was at Drouant at the announcement of the Goncourt prize, awarded to Nicolas Mathieu for his second novel Children after them (Actes Sud) and Renaudot to Valérie Manteau for Le Sillon (The Tripod).
The taxi door opens. The foot barely on the ground, here it is surrounded by a horde of poles, cameras and microphones. Nicolas Mathieu has just won the Goncourt 2018 prize for his second novel Les enfants après lui (Actes Sud). He succeeds Eric Vuillard for The Agenda (Actes Sud). Nicolas Mathieu does not seem to believe it. All smiles, he makes his way inside the restaurant Drouant, located near the Paris Opera. "I am happy, rather stupefied and taken a curious vertigo, he confides a few minutes after his coronation. It's the beginning of a new life that starts 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, cigarette in hand, leans over the window of the establishment and plays
Virginie Despentes and Bernard Pivot, at the Drouant restaurant in Paris. GONZALO FUENTES / REUTERS still mystery. "So? Who is it? "He shouted. The jury member Goncourt smiles and taunts the impatient. Bernard Pivot joins her soon, delighted to see such an indocile audience. On the ground floor, some make their predictions and hesitate. "It's difficult this year. There are very good books, especially that of Diop, "commented a reader, always at the rendezvous for six years. But at 12:45, as promised, the wait is over. »READ ALSO – Their children after them, Nicolas Mathieu: the road of servitude« This is the last manifestation of a France that disappears Jury Goncourt, Didier Decoin, gray suit anthracite and blue shirt, down the steps of the restaurant to meet the journalists. At the announcement of the name of Nicolas Mathieu, the crowd lets out a satisfied "Ah". We even hear a "bravo!" In the distance. It is followed by the Renaudot prize awarded to Valérie Manteau for Le Sillon (The Tripod). She succeeds Olivier Guez for The disappearance of Josef Mengele (Grasset). The jurors also awarded a "special prize" to Philippe Lançon for Le Lambeau (Gallimard), who has already won the Femina prize. Place now at lunch. On the menu: haddock and caviar, fine crab jelly, ground fillet, Hazelnut venison and pan-fried foie gras, brie de Meaux with truffles. Finally, for dessert, Pear Belle-Hélène. It is at this moment that the two juries choose to express themselves on the choice of their laureate. Barely time to taste their entry. The journalists enter in waves. Each turn. The rest of the cameras must wait patiently on the ground floor, in the company of the so-called "swallows", usual spades-plate. »READ ALSO – Literary prizes, a French passion Everyone is delighted with the new Prix Goncourt. Virginie Despentes emphasizes the writing of Nicolas Mathieu, "his social chronicle paints a France we do not talk about. It's very Zola, nothing is overrated. I think this is the last manifestation of a France that disappears. Pierre Assouline, meanwhile, recognizes a "contemporary history", which responds to "very current questions". He regrets, however, that Diop, author of Brother Soul (Seuil), was not distinguished. For his part, Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt evokes a "sensual novel with real writing. He accurately translates adolescence and his fury. "He hopes that" the mark Goncourt will allow him to be translated abroad ". "Valérie Manteau's book is a very nice choice that goes first to youth" While Nicolas Mathieu comes under a wave of praise, Paule Constant does not refrain from recalling his preference for Paul Greveillac and his novel Masters and slaves (Gallimard). She considers herself, however, "satisfied" and recognizes the work of a writer. "After their children talk about despair, French provinces that industrialization has abandoned. Emmanuel Macron should read the novel by Nicolas Mathieu, who is currently following the territories wounded by the war and unemployment. "On the Renaudot side, the jury is equally enthusiastic. But Valerie Manteau, who appeared in the penultimate price list, will not be part of the lunch. She is in Marseille. We still want to greet the author and his book The Furrow (The Tripod). "This is a very nice choice that goes first to the youth," says the academician and member of the prize Renaudot Dominique Bona. "This is his second book but a first novel. The writing is very appreciated by the jury. With this trip that she proposes us to Istanbul, she arrives with a tone of naive, that of her character to make us understand the beauty and the cruelty of this city. "And to specify:" We wanted to distinguish a pretty writing and at the same time, thanks to this prize, to make discover a new author. »» READ ALSO – Prix Renaudot: David Diop, Philippe Lançon favorites On the Goncourt side, we also congratulate the laureate. Virginie Despentes is one of her first admirers. "Valérie Manteau has a totally sincere writing that I immediately adhere to. I like his way of painting Turkey. She tells with this book what could happen in the France of tomorrow. That is to say, an autocratic power, violence in the street. She describes it very well. We can all become targets. "With this new prize, the Académie Goncourt once again recognizes Actes Sud. Jérôme Ferrari in 2012, Mathias Enard in 2015, Éric Vuillard in 2017 and now Nicolas Mathieu. As for the editions of Tripod, this is the first time that one of their authors is awarded the Renaudot prize. .