Belgian writer wins out for Goncourt prize

4th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 3 (AFP) - A Belgian writer, François Weyergans, was Thursday awarded the top book prize in France after a close race with the country's famous enfant terrible of literature, Michel Houellebecq.

PARIS, Nov 3 (AFP) - A Belgian writer, François Weyergans, was Thursday awarded the top book prize in France after a close race with the country's famous enfant terrible of literature, Michel Houellebecq.

The jury of the prestigious Goncourt prize said Weyergans, 64, received six votes for his book 'Trois Jours Chez Ma Mère' (Three Days at My Mother's) against four for Houellebecq's bestseller, 'The Possibility of an Island'.

The panel wanted to show its 'independence' in giving the prize to Weyergans and confounding expectations that Houellebecq had the prize in the bag, said Didier Decoin, one of the jury members and secretary general of France's Académie Goncourt.

'The Possibility of an Island' was a publishing sensation even before it came out this year, buoyed by the international success of Houellebecq's previous works, 'Platform', 'The Elementary Particles' and 'Whatever'.

'Trois Jours Chez Ma Mere', in contrast, has so far garnered only modest attention in France since its release last month.

"I honestly had a tough time finishing it. I finished it in a state that I would call sub-depressive," Weyergans, who is sometimes described as a sort of Belgian Woody Allen, said in a recent interview.

In a feat of intellectual introspection reminiscent of a maze of mirrors, his story tells of a man (named François Weyergraf) who is unable to finish reading a book (called 'Trois Jours Chez Ma Mere') whose author (named François Graffenberg) would have preferred to have written about the sexual exploits of somebody else (named François Weyertein).

The novel has divided critics. Some admire Weyergans' erudition and style, while others deplore what they see as an artificial and outdated construction.

Weyergans, born in Belgium in 1941 to a French mother and a Belgian father, has lived much of his life in Paris. He first came to be known in 1973 when he wrote 'Le Pitre' (The Buffoon). Other books include 'Le Radeau de la Meduse', 'Je Suis Ecrivain' and 'Franz et François'.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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