France's most coveted literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, has been awarded to 29-year-old high school teacher Patrick Grainville.
SV EXTERIOR Le Drouant restaurant, Paris, France
SV INTERIOR Armand Lanoux, Secretary-General of the Academie Goncourt, announcing prize (3 shots)
CU Cover of book "Les Flamboyants" by Patrick Grainville
SV Grainville speaking in French
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: France's most coveted literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, has been awarded to 29-year-old high school teacher Patrick Grainville. His novel "Les Flaboyants" is a 320-page saga about modern Africa revolving around a mad but likeable king who rules there. "Les Flamboyants" was chosen from eight books contending for the honour. The prize itself is only 50 france (six sterling) but the publicity ensures the author of sales of at least 300,000 francs (42,000 sterling).
SYNOPSIS: The prizewinner was announced in a ceremony at a Paris restaurant by the Secretary General of the Academie Goncourt, M. Armand Lanoux. The announcement that the winner was Patrick Grainville did not come as a surprise as he had been tipped as favourite for some time. M. Lanoux said that "Les Flamboyants" was chosen after three ballots by the jury of eight writers. M. Grainville, the son of a normandy timber merchant has written three other books. He was considered for the prize in 1973. But the jury members were divided on his book "Lisiere" and eventually gave the prize to Swiss writer Jacques Chessex. The Goncourt has been surrounded by controversy in recent years with a group of young writers charging that the choice of winner was made under pressure from publishers of works by the Goncourt judges.
M. Grainville, a high school teacher in a Paris suburb, described his novel in an exclusive interview
M. Grainville said he had created an odd character, a mad general. He said the book is about this man's adventures in the middle of Africa. M. Grainville said the general leads his army in Africa and they are at war with a rebellious population. Later the general goes into the jungle to search for a mysterious people believed to possess magical secrets. M. Grainville describes his novel as an adventure story something like Tarzan. But newspapers were quick to comment that the character bore a resemblance to Ugandan ruler, Idi Amin. The French paper Le Monde has described the book as "sublime, baroque and many coloured". Some critics say the work is over-powering in its imagery and that the text is generally difficult to read.