To begin with, what can you tell us about this year's winner Goncourt Nicolas Mathieu and his novel "Their Children Behind Them"?
We are very much in the tradition of Edmond de Goncourt, the crowning of the fictitious work of a young author (Nicolas Mathieu is 40 years old, ed), who writes in style a little new. This is a social novel about young people, written in the language of young people, as it did a few years ago since the book ends at the 1998 World Championship. It's a thrilling book, very moving, which talks about all troubles, accidents, happiness, a generation that tries to find its own and, unfortunately, too often forced to stop their steps in their predecessors.
Is it a book that has easily won in other years?
In the fourth round he won, so it was finally quite easy, with 6 votes in favor and 4 votes. I would say this is a very classic vote.
How are the elections going?
Votes are delivered orally. The secretary prepares the order of the jury so that those who vote the latter can adjust the vote of others. Every new vote is a new stallion. This year, there were 4 votes for Nicolas Mathieu, 4 votes for Paul Greveillac and 2 votes for the third author. Then he was in the second round 4-4-1-1, and then for the third time in third, so that the last two voices were collected by Nicolas Mathieu on account of Paul Greveillac and his novel "The Masters and Slaves." David Diop also got votes.
How many books are in the game at the beginning?
I would say that there are about 150 books of size that are in the race for Goncourt. Each of the ten members read about fifty. Summer holidays, June-July-August, we survive to read all this. Which members of the Goncourt Academy need little generosity, because while reading others, we do not work alone. However, it is nice to say, as it is today (an interview was held on Wednesday, the day marked Goncourt, ed), we achieved the happiness and fame of the deserving young author. We are rewarded for these efforts.
What are your reading habits in these intense periods?
This is very variable. For example, it depends if it rains or not, if I have a family with me or not, if I'm in shape, if I travel. The good thing is that I can read it anywhere and at any time. When I obviously took the train, I read it, but I can also read with the car next to the driver. On the other hand, I do not read on the beach or in the pool. I still have to sit well and get out.
50 pounds in three months, it's a book every two days, that's intense!
There are also books that begin without ending. After 30 or 40 pages, I can stop very much when I feel that I'm wasting my time.
Do you have a certain methodology?
They all do what he wants at Goncourt Academy. I love working with the first novels. I did this this year and I was rewarded because there were many very good first novels. Then I often associate with the authors a little more familiar, which we know are popular prices. But I change: sometimes I start with big books, then with small books. It's not really a method. This is according to the mood of the moment.
Were you President of the Goncourt Academy since 2004, when you integrated it, or is it a novel that has marked you more than any other person during this period?
Many loved me very much. The work is a good "benevolent" Jonathan Littell, the 2006 Goncourt price, such as "Sweet Song" Leile Slimani, winner in 2016. "Hello there", Pierre Lemaitre (Goncourt 2013, ed) also tagged. I would also like to point out that during this season I have experienced a great literary fortune, from the author, already awarded by Prix Goncourt, Jérôme Ferrari (for the "Voice of the Fall of Rome" in 2012, ed), which this year published an exceptional novel "Po its image ". It's great if you're in the jury that you have proof that we're not wrong.
In the broader sense, if the book should have been, what would it be?
Far from the novel …
Yes. But it's not just romantics in life. My mine does not spin around the price of Goncourt. The first book I read was during the Le Petit Larousse War.
Do you feel more important literary awards such as Goncourt?
It's not true. This title has been the most prestigious literary award for quite some time. The word Goncourt is known in Spain as in the United States, Japan, or China. This is a mark and the main thing for us, as heirs, is to preserve its quality. However, I do not think writers are thinking of Goncourt when they write. They do it because they need it. The time is when the book is finished.