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2020 French Voices Grand Prizes Announced

Our Jury has spoken and we are thrilled to present the 2020 French Voices Grand Prize Winners! We were not able to hold an in person ceremony in the past two years to celebrate our prizes but we sincerely hope we will be able to reconvene soon and properly celebrate the French works in translation and the fabulous publishers and translators who bring them to you. 

Congratulations to the happy winners and to the readers they will delight!

Launched in 2006, the French Voices Awards recognize the quality of both the original work and the translation. Selected by committee of independent professional experts the works epitomize the many facets of a vibrant French literary scene. 

Our Jury has selected the following titles for a Grand Prize. Each Grand prize will be allocated a $10,000 prize. French voices winners are allocated $6,000. 

2020 Grand Prize in Fiction

The Mediterranean Wall by Louis Philippe Dalembert in a translation by Marjolijn de Jager 


Dalembert (The Other Side of the Sea) has provided a Tolstoyan narrative of the contemporary immigrants' exodus from war, famine, poverty, criminality and injustice to a better life across the Mediterranean Sea. Following in intimate detail the lives of three women from disparate religions and cultures, and nations--Nigeria, Eritrea, and Syria--Dalembert compassionately depicts these three women and the bond they form together in their mutual struggle to escape to Europe via an overcrowded, dilapidated boat across the sea, the metaphorical wall between their former lives and the future. Certain to appeal to readers of literature of migration and such recent fiction as "Behold the Dreamers" and "The Lost Children Archive."

Louis-Philippe Dalembert (born December 8, 1962 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti) is an award-winning Haitian poet and novelist. He writes in both French and Haitian creole. His works have been translated into several languages. He now divides his home between Berlin, Paris and Port-au-Prince. 

Marjolijn de Jager translates from both the Dutch and the French. Francophone African literature, the women’s voices in particular, have a special place in her heart. Among her honors are an NEA grant, two NEH grants and, in 2011, the ALA Distinguished Member Award received from the African Literature Association for scholarship, teaching, and translations of African Literature. 


"Louis-Philippe Dalembert is one of the most imaginative writers of his generation"  —Edwidge Danticat, author of Everything Inside and Brother, I'm Dying

"It may seem counterintuitive, but on second thought, who better to write from inside the Mediterranean refugee crisis than a Haitian novelist living in France? And Louis Philippe Dalembert has done it beautifully here." —Madison Smartt Bell, National Book Award Finalist

"Dalembert is a world-class poet and chronicler not only of the African diaspora but of the radical uprootedness of people everywhere. His work is the work of witness, infused with love and admiration for the millions of sufferers who endure the violent disruptions of our time with dignity and perseverance and a love for one another that is equal to his own." —Russell Banks, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, Continental Drift and Foregone

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2020 Grand Prize in NonFiction

Affluence and Freedom: An Environmental History of Political Ideas by Pierre Charbonnier in a translation by Andrew Brown. To be published by Polity Press in Sept. 2021
(Abondance et liberté, La Découverte)

In this pathbreaking book, Pierre Charbonnier opens up a new intellectual terrain: an environmental history of political ideas. His aim is not to locate the seeds of ecological thought in the history of political ideas as others have done, but rather to show that all political ideas, whether or not they endorse ecological ideals, are informed by a certain conception of our relationship to the Earth and to our environment.

The fundamental political categories of modernity were founded on the idea that we could improve on nature, that we could exert a decisive victory over its excesses and claim unlimited access to earthly resources. In this way, modern thinkers imagined a political society of free individuals, equal and prosperous, alongside the development of industry geared towards progress and liberated from the Earth’s shackles. Yet this pact between democracy and growth has now been called into question by climate change and the environmental crisis. It is therefore our duty today to rethink political emancipation, bearing in mind that this can no longer draw on the prospect of infinite growth promised by industrial capitalism. Ecology must draw on the power harnessed by nineteenth-century socialism to respond to the massive impact of industrialization, but it must also rethink the imperative to offer protection to society by taking account of the solidarity of social groups and their conditions in a world transformed by climate change.

This timely and original work will be of interest to a wide readership in politics, sociology, environmental studies and the social sciences and humanities generally.

Pierre Charbonnier is a researcher at the CNRS and a member of the Centre d'études européennes; he teaches at Sciences Po, Paris.

Andrew Brown has taught at the École normale supérieure before becoming lecturer and director of studies in Modern Languages at Magdalene College and then King’s College, Cambridge. In 2000, he left academia to become a translator. He initially focused on fiction but now works mainly on 20th- and 21st-century social theory, history and philosophy (including Barthes, Sartre, Lyotard, Todorov and Emmanuel Todd).


"Because he speaks the language of political philosophy and not that of environmentalism, Charbonnier manages, paradoxically, to bring questions of the material conditions of existence much closer to what those who pursue the modern ideals of freedom and prosperity need in order to realize them. He might succeed in rendering political ecology mainstream."
Bruno Latour, Sciences Po, Paris

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Happy reading to all!

For more information about the other Awards please visit the following pages:

2020 French Voices Awards: Second Session

2020 French Voices Awards: First Session