It's 12:40, a few minutes from the Goncourt prize on the ground floor of the restaurant Drouant, place Gaillon in Paris (II). A tweet falls on the phones. David Diop, who has so far been presented as a favorite of the highest literary award for "Brother of Soul" (Seuil), is pleased to have been contacted by ten jury secretary secretary Didier Decoin: "My best news is to announce that I have the prize!"
Okey for him is a hoax. It is a 40-year-old young man, Nicolas Mathieu, who resides in Epinal (Vosges), who passes the line first with "Their Children After Them", published by Editions Actes Sud *. A doubling of two years for the publisher founded by the father of Françoise Nyssen, former Minister of Culture.
"The publisher, we do not care! Bernard Pivot, the jury chairman, later said that the circle had verified that there were no microphones hidden under the table. The book provokes the industrially injured Lorraine from the 1990s and its abandoned youth. The ten lawyers preferred it in the fourth round to 6 against 4, Paul Greveillac, 37, and his "Masters and Slaves" (Gallimard), which takes place in China Mao.
But the choice was difficult. Each one in their way is these books intense and beautiful. And the vintage of 2018 is of high quality. "Their children after them" is Mathieu's second novel, after "Aux animaux la guerre", published in 2014 and whose television adaptation, with Roschdy Zem and Olivia Bonamy, will be broadcast on November 15 on France 3.
A story inspired by his own youth
"This is a new author who talks about France today, justifies Bernard Pivot. And although it's a bit dated since the last stage happens during France-Croatia 1998, France has not changed much, and industrial Lorraine has not recovered a lot. The social problems that young people like Mathieu say with much dear are the same. "
Twenty minutes later, waiting for the Messiah, the priest points his nose in the living room on the first floor. "I'm here like a rabbit in the car's headlight. It's a bit destabilizing. He answers the questions in bulk." Almost two years of work and loneliness. A story inspired by their own youth, real characters. "I'm glad that this literary and political Attempts are crowned. "Policy?" From the moment we tell people how to live, love or hate each other, it's political. "
The Renaudot Prize goes to a ghost, Valerie Manteau, journalist, formerly "Charlie Hebdo", for "Sillon", editions of the tripod. Another journalist, Olivia de Lamberterie, received the Renaudot essay for "With all my sympathies" and a special award to Philippe Lançon for "Le Lambeau", who is already the winner of the Femina Prize.
* 426 pages, 21.80 euros