The French Voices Grand Prize goes to....

February 10, 2014 | By Book Department

On February 6th, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and FACE hosted the first French Voices Award Ceremony, with a special homage to the late publisher André Schiffrin. Despite particularly brutal weather in New York, the event welcomed over 150 guests, including Schiffrin's daughter Anya Schiffrin and her husband Joseph Stiglitz, a number of editors, translators, and journalists, and many of those who joined us for the Proust festival in November.

To celebrate his commitment to translation and independent publishing, the night began with readings of the work of three French writers that Schiffrin published in the U.S.: An excerpt from La Douleur by Marguerite Duras was read by Robert Harvey, who was one of the editors of the Pléiade edition of her work, followed by Michel Foucault's Sexuality and Solitude, read by Eric Banks (Director, NY Institute for the Humanities at NYU) and an excerpt from 1914 by Jean Echenoz, read by the book's translator, Linda Coverdale.

The readings were followed by a roundtable discussion on independent publishing. Participants included Ellen Adler (New Press), Esther Allen (translator; professor; founding member of French Voices), Georges Borchardt (literary agent) and Olivier Cohen, (Founder & Director of Editions de l'Olivier). The conversation was moderated John R. MacArthur (President of Harper’s Magazine; publisher). The roundtable covered many issues, from the differences between independent publishing in France and the U.S., the state of independent bookstores, and the goal of the French Voices program, to setting the record straight about Schiffrin's departure from the Random House imprint Pantheon Books.

The evening concluded with an award ceremony honoring the twelve French Voices grant recipients, and the unveiling of the 2013 French Voices Grand Prize. Chosen by a panel of literary professionals, the grant recipients represent new trends in fiction and underrepresented perspectives in non-fiction. Writer and translator Francine Prose, who served as the French Voices 2013 Honorary Chair, was unfortunately unable to join the celebration due to the weather. The award was therefore graciously presented by Cultural Counselor Antonin Baudry.

We are pleased to announce that this year, the French Voices Grand Prize was awarded to translator Melanie Mauthner and Archipelago Books for the wonderful Notre-Dame du Nil by Scholastique Mukasonga. This powerful novel paints a stunning portrait of 1970's Rwanda, just before the genocide. It was awarded the Prix Renaudot 2012. Mukasonga will promote her book in the U.S. this fall.

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