Éric Chacour wins the Booksellers Prize in France

French booksellers have chosen to award their annual prize to Éric Chacour’s first novel, What I know about you, during a ceremony which took place Wednesday at the National Book Center in Paris. The Montreal author thus becomes the second Quebecer to win this award since Anne Hébert, in 1971, with Kamouraska.

Posted at 1:42 p.m.

“I have rarely been moved by an award, but here, I was moved to tears. It’s because it says so much about the life of this book,” he told The Press Eric Chacour.

Éric Chacour’s novel, which tells the story of a young doctor in Cairo from the 1960s to the 1980s until his exile, was published last year by Alto and then in August in France, by the publisher Philippe Rey . It is also in the running for the Quebec Booksellers Prize, which will be revealed on Thursday.

“I owe most of the success of this novel to the booksellers who carried it on both sides of the Atlantic, in France, but in Quebec too,” emphasized Éric Chacour. It was really the booksellers of Quebec who incredibly defended it at a time when media attention was much less than today. They spoke about it with so much passion that when my French editor was asked what had drawn his attention to this novel written by an unknown Quebecer, he replied that he had spotted it by the abundance of favorites of Quebec booksellers on social networks. That’s really what caught his attention! »

A success that transcends borders

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What I know about you

What I know about you has exceeded since its publication the milestone of 110,000 copies sold on both sides of the Atlantic – a sales figure which exceeds all the expectations of the author who works in the financial sector and who has been working on his novel in the shadows since ten years.

“When I finished writing this text, I felt like I had told a story that was beautiful in my head; that was about it, Éric Chacour told us with emotion. And when Alto wanted it, I said to myself that it might perhaps appeal to critics, to people who were a bit interested in literature. But never, ever, would I have thought I had done something popular. And if it became so, it’s thanks to the booksellers, because they were the little spark that started this somewhat crazy word of mouth. »

“Completely crazy” memories from his tour of bookstores in France last fall, the author has his head full of them, in fact. He remembers, among other things, this bookstore in Nantes which made a human pyramid to defend the book. Or this Maison de la Presse, in Mérignac, where the bookseller-owner had lined the space with posters, press cuttings and photos of the novel for the signing session, in addition to offering his customers a guarantee “money back” when they purchased the book – of which he ended up selling over 500 copies. “I have lots of memories like that. And I can’t count the number of booksellers who talked about it on TV, in the newspapers, on the radio when we questioned them, here in Quebec, but also in France, Switzerland, Belgium. »

In addition to making it to the second selections of the Femina and Renaudot prizesWhat I know about you has accumulated nearly a dozen awards here and in France, including the Five Continents of La Francophonie Prize, the Femina for high school students, the CALQ Prize – Œuvre de la recherche à Montréal and the Discovery Grant from the Prince Foundation Peter of Monaco.

The novel has already been translated or is being translated into a dozen languages, including English (for release planned for September), Spanish, Arabic, German, Greek, Swedish, Danish and Dutch.

Among the five finalists of this 70e edition of the French booksellers’ prize also included the novels And you will pass like crazy windsby Clara Arnaud (Actes Sud), From the same woodby Marion Fayolle (Gallimard), To die, the worldby Yan Lespoux (Agullo), and The child in the taxiby Sylvain Prudhomme (Éditions de Minuit).

Éric Chacour will also be this weekend at the Étonnants voyageurs festival in Saint-Malo, France, where Quebec is once again in the spotlight after being the star of the Paris Book Festival.



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