Retiree wins top French writing prize

29th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 28 (AFP) - A 76-year-old retired businessman who turned his hand to writing has won a top French prize for novelists with his first book, a medieval tale symbolising the traps of foreign interference and cultural conflict.

PARIS, Oct 28 (AFP) - A 76-year-old retired businessman who turned his hand to writing has won a top French prize for novelists with his first book, a medieval tale symbolising the traps of foreign interference and cultural conflict.

Bernard Du Boucheron was on Thursday named the recipient of the Academie Francaise's prestigious prize for novel-writing for his 132-page "Court Serpent" (Short Snake), carrying off the EUR 7,500 (USD 10,000 dollar) purse.

The news that an unknown had beaten established authors to the honour created a stir in French literary circles.

But the Academie Francaise - the institution that is the official watchdog of the French language - said the decision was an overwhelming one, backed by13 of the 15 members who voted.

One of them, Pierre-Jean Remy, told Le Figaro newspaper last month the work was "jubilatory" and praised Du Boucheron, who spent most of his career as a top-level executive in the aeronautics, telecommunications, energy and transport sectors.

Du Boucheron retired in 1994 after overseeing a high-speed train project in Texas.

Le Monde newspaper saw the book as a parable on international conflicts such as the US war on Iraq, calling it "a very current reflection on the disasters that befall foreign interference and the clash of cultures."

The novel tells the story of a fictitious European people who migrate to a frozen north Atlantic land strongly resembling Greenland.

After hundreds of years without news of the colony, a priest is dispatched at the end of the 14th century to find out what transpired and assist them if necessary.

After voyaging on the ship "Court Serpent", the envoy discovers a people infused with a terrible violence and has to overcome a series of obstacles to fulfil his mission.

The Academie's prize is the first of a series to be awarded over the next few days in France, culminating with the Goncourt on November 8.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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