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Pierre Assouline and Rithy Panh, winner of the Southern Writers Prize


The first is winner in the novel category with You will be a man, my son, the second, for his story Peace with the dead, on the massacre of the Khmer Rouge.

The Prix des Écrivains du sud launches the season of literary rewards which will be awarded this first semester, with, soon, the RTL-Lire prize, the Inter Book… It is the books of the return to winter which are highlighted.

The literary prize of the Writers of the South, chaired by the writer Metin Ardi, surrounded, among others, by Paule Constant, Valérie Toranian, Jean-François Colosimo, Maryvonne de Pulgent, Robert Kopp, Jean-Noël Pancrazi, Mohammed Aïssaoui and Olivier Bellamy , rewards each year a novel and an essay "on the occasion of the publication of a remarkable French-language work for its promotion of literature" . For the 2020 edition, two strong books have been chosen.

In the Novel category, Pierre Assouline was distinguished for Tu seras un homme, mon fils (Gallimard) and, in the Essay category, It is Peace with the Dead (Grasset), the story by Rithy Panh co-written with Christophe Bataille.

Pierre Assouline in search of Kipling

With Tu seras un homme, mon fils , Pierre Assouline wrote a remarkable novel that immerses us in the intimacy of Rudyard Kipling, the author of the Jungle Book , devastated by the death of his son. The narrator, Louis Lambert, professor of letters at the Janson-de-Sailly high school, finds himself in London, at Westminster Abbey. Resistant, he was dismissed from his establishment. But it is something else that guides his steps: five years before, he had made the trip to this place even for the grandiose funeral of Rudyard Kipling, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, at 42 years old, sacred monster of his living. Lambert has an obsession: to translate as closely as possible to the letter and the spirit If , the famous poem which ends with You will be a man, my son.

But what interests Assouline is John, Rudyard's son, the misfortune of his life. John Kipling, myopic like his father, who pushed him to marry a military career when he was refused by several bodies, died in France from his first battle, that of Loos, in 1915. This drama comes after another, the death of his eldest daughter. Father of three children, the illustrious writer has only one daughter, and a woman who hardly inspires him. His whole existence, Kipling, plagued by guilt, was haunted by the ghost of his son whose body has never been found.

The Essay category crowned one of the most powerful stories published at the start of the year. It is written by four hands, Rithy Panh, filmmaker, and Christophe Bataille, novelist and editor. They are their third title in common, after the famous L'Élimination et L'Image Missante (whose adaptation won the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival).

Rithy Panh in the footsteps of her childhood

Rithy Panh is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge massacres. In Peace with the Dead , he travels Cambodia in the footsteps of his childhood in search of the graves of members of his family. Accompanied by Christophe Bataille, he shows the devastation caused by the Khmer Rouge and gives the floor to those who live there. In the first chapter titled Treaty of Peace, he says: “We must reach out to the other world. The dead also seek us. I make this trip to speak with them, in the pagodas where Buddha lies; along roads and rivers; often in rice fields. There, on a mound where when scratching we find tissues hardened by blood, I waited. Under what sky, I could not say: I saw it melancholy and dull over the Mekong; and clear in the mountains of the northwest, where the Khmer Rouge took refuge for a long time after their crime. Everywhere, an enigma. "

The award ceremony will take place in Aix-en-Provence, during the Writers of South Jean Giono festival which is held from March 6 to 8, with this superb theme: The author and his characters. On this occasion, a prize for readers of the Writers of the South will also be awarded. The 2020 winner is Akira Mizubayashi for Broken Soul (Gallimard).

Source: lefigaro

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