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Students of French to judge prestigious French literary prize

Students of French to judge prestigious French literary prize, the Choix Goncourt UK

  • Date16 Mar 2021
  • Reading time 1min

This year, students of French at Royal Holloway are taking part in the Choix Goncourt UK. Alongside students from 11 other British universities they will have the chance to decide on the recipient of this prestigious literary award from a shortlist decided by the Académie Goncourt. At the deliberations prior to the announcement of the prize on Thursday 18 March 2021 we will be represented by our students Izzy Barrett-Lally and Graydon Pawlik.

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At the initiative of Professor Hannah Thompson, a group of enthusastic students from the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures have participated in a weekly reading group to consider the shortlisted books by Maël Renouard (L’historiographe du Royaume)Djaïli Amadou Amal (Les Impatientes)Camille de Toledo (Thésée, sa vie nouvelle) and Hervé Le Tellier (L’Anomalie), who was the winner of the 2020 Prix Goncourt in France. 

The winner will be announced on 18 March as part of an online ceremony opened by French Ambassador Catherine Colonna and live streamed from the French Institute in London.

This is the second edition of The Choix Goncourt UK, a joint initiative of the Higher Education, Research and Innovation Department of the French Embassy and the French Institute in London, in partnership with the Académie Goncourt, the Maison française d’Oxford, the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie and Librairie La Page. 

The Prix Goncourt, France’s oldest and most coveted literary prize, named after the Goncourt brothers, who were both writers, has set the pace of French publishing life since 1903. Famous awardees include Marcel Proust, Romain Gary (twice! the second time under the pseudonym Emile Ajar), Marguerite Duras and Michel Houellebecq, to name but a few.

This year, more than 100 students from UK based universities (King’s College London, Royal Holloway University of London, Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Leeds, Southampton, Bath, Aberdeen, St Andrews, Queen’s Belfast and Open University) were invited to discuss the shortlisted books from the prestigious French Académie Goncourt and award their Choix Goncourt UK.

On 18 March, universities delegates will gather online to debate in French and choose the one that would receive their Prize, before the announcement ceremony (see programme below).

Ahead of the big reveal, the Maison Française d’Oxford organised a series of special online events with the four shortlisted authors which are still available on replay.This year’s  Choix Goncourt UK is part of le Mois de la Francophonie.

The first Choix Goncourt UK was awarded to Jean-Paul Dubois for his book Tous les hommes n’habitent pas le monde de la même façonWatch a presentation of the then selection by members of the student jury.

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