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The Albertine Prize 2018: A Crash Course

by Shannon Sullivan

It’s that time of year again… the Albertine Prize ceremony is almost upon us! With voting coming to a close on May 1, here’s everything you need to know about the shortlisted books, their authors, and their translators.

First things first: the Albertine Prize is a $10,000 readers-choice prize for a French-language fiction title that has been translated into English and distributed in the United States within the preceding calendar year, co-presented by Van Cleef & Arpels and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. The prize, awarded on June 6, 2018, will be split between the author and translator at a ceremony held at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Now in its second year, the Prize was previously awarded to Antoine Volodine’s Bardo or Not Bardo, translated by J. T. Mahany.

And now, the nominees are…

Incest, Christine Angot, translated by Tess Lewis (Archipelago)

Originally published in France in 1999, Incest meets its narrator as she falls out from a torrential relationship with another woman. Her thoughts become increasingly wild and the trauma underlying her pain and fractured sense of self resurfaces as she goes on a psychoanalytic journey inward. Christine Angot, one of the most acclaimed (and most controversial) authors in contemporary France, strives to be “unmanageable” in her work, and her writing disrupts forms, framework, and mainstream literary codes. As Josyane Savigneau for Le Monde said, “We going to be thinking for a long time about this book.”

Want to learn more?  Watch Albertine Deputy Director Miriam Bridenne’s recommendation of Incest, check out Bookwitty’s interview  with translator Tess Lewis, and read the first five pages of Incest to see what the buzz is all about.



Compass, Mathias Énard, translated by Charlotte Mandell (New Directions)

Compass, winner of the 2015 Prix Goncourt and described by the Washington Post as a “brilliant dark night of the soul,” follows musicologist Franz Ritter during a sleepless night in Vienna as he drifts between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life. One theme pervades his musings: that of his unrequited love, fiercely intelligent French scholar Sarah. French novelist Énard previously won recognition for 2010’s Zone, also translated by Charlotte Mandell.

Read Mandell’s interview with Bookwitty here,  watch a video about why it deserves to win, and get a taste of Compass here with its first five pages.



Not One Day, Anne Garréta, translated by Emma Ramadan (Deep Vellum)

“Not one day without a woman.” So begins Not One Day, an intimate, erotic, and occasionally bitter recounting of loves and loves past, exploring the overlap between memory, fantasy, and desire. Anne Garréta, known for her groundbreaking novel Sphinx, is a member of the renowned Oulipo literary group. Winning the Prix Medicis in 2002, Not One Day is Garréta’s second English publication, also marking her second time working with translator Emma Ramadan.

Learn more about Ramadan’s work with Garréta here, and see why we love it in the video below. 



The End of Eddy, Édouard Louis translated by Michael Lucey (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Édouard Louis’ bestselling autobiographical The End of Eddy recounts his experience growing up gay and poor in northern France. From childhood, Eddy wanted to be a man in the eyes of his community, but he was always different; The End of Eddy details the violence of life in his small factory town while presenting a universal portrait of boyhood and sexual awakening. At age 25, Louis is already recognized as one of France’s best contemporary authors and, as he gains more global attention, one of the literary world’s newest stars.

Read more about translator Michael Lucey’s experience with The End of Eddy here, check out Albertine bookseller Adam’s recommendation, and read an excerpt to learn more.



Black Moses, Alain Mabanckou, translated by Helen Stevenson (New Press)

The People’s Republic of Congo, 1970. A Marxist-Leninist revolution ushers in a new age, but all that means to young Moses is that his orphanage’s corrupt director now has even more power. After escaping to Pointe-Noire, Moses finds home with a band of Congolese Merry Men and a band of Zairian prostitutes, and confronts the question: Could he be the Robin Hood of the Congo? Black Moses expands Congolese native and UCLA Professor of Literature Alain Mabanckou’s body of work dedicated to Congo and confirms him as one of this generation’s greatest storytellers.

To learn about translator Helen Stevenson’s work on Black Moses, her fifth collaboration with Mabanckou, see her interview with Bookwitty here. To read the first five pages of Black Moses, click here

If you want to see experts go head-to-head on the rightful winner, revisit our Book Battle, moderated by Literary Hub Editor in Chief Jonny Diamond. You can also read interviews with each of the authors, and take a quiz to see which book is the best fit for you. Don’t forget to vote before May 1!