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9.11.12

Jérôme Ferrari, Prix Goncourt 2012

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The big literary news in France in the fall is the Prix Goncourt, which went this year to a young novelist named Jérôme Ferrari, 44. He spoke about his new book, Le sermon sur la chute de Rome (The sermon on the fall of Rome, published by Actes Sud), with François Aubel (Jérôme Ferrari, Goncourt 2012, November 2) for Le Figaro. The story concerns a Corsican family (Ferrari's family is from Corsica) living under a curse that afflicts all its generations, with reference to a line from St. Augustine's sermon on the fall of Rome, in The City of God, which gives a universality to the narrative: "The World is like a man, who is born, who grows up, and who dies." As Ferrari told the interviewer, "I found that very beautiful. The birth of the book is in that. St. Augustine is not a part of the novel, he was what initiated it."

Asked about his reaction to winning the prize -- and still being under consideration for others -- Ferrari responded joyfully: "I don't believe it. I will tell you, I am happy to have lived this at least once in my life because if someone had told me this story, I would not have believed it. Believe me, I am going to celebrate a long time. And many times. What is happening right now, I was not expecting it. Not even one little bit. I thought that returning to a rural theme for a novel was going to be fatal for me."

Ferrari has just been appointed professor of philosophy at the Lycée français of Abu Dhabi, which he says gives him a good distance from all of the hubbub over his win. "It is very good to be over there, in effect," he said. "If I was in Paris or even in Ajaccio, I think I would have more trouble avoiding my tendency towards obsessiveness. I am settling into a new job, a new life, which makes these preoccupations a little healthier." The rest of the interview is worth a read.

BONUS:
In Stockholm, 150 artists have been given carte blanche to create art on the walls of the subway system. You can take a look at the results -- in 90 of the 100 stations have been redecorated -- in this video from Agence France-Presse.

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