It was through a terse press release that the news fell:
“Because of his state of health, Patrick Rambaud has just asked the academicians to receive him as an honorary member of the Literary Society. The latter ratified this desire, unanimously, during their meeting on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, sending him their friendships and wishes to see him again very soon. »
Clearly, Patrick Rambaud, 76, Goncourt prize in 1997 for “The Battle” (Grasset), leaves the Academy. He joined in 2008, on the 5th cover, succeeding Daniel Boulanger. The nine remaining Drouant guests should elect a new member to replace him, at the very beginning of 2023, in January or February.
The sequel after the ad
Exclusively linked to his health problems, the departure of Patrick Rambaud, however, comes in a tormented period. This fall, the jurors of the most prestigious French literary prize have indeed failed to hide their divisions. They even came to light on November 3, when the award was presented to Brigitte Giraud for “Vivre vite” (Flammarion). A book crowned after fourteen rounds of voting, far from being unanimous. They were five to prefer “The Mage of the Kremlin” (Gallimard) by Giuliano da Empoli. As an article in Le Monde reminded us, the supporters of the Italian writer did not hesitate to come out of their reserve to express their disappointment: “I regret that we did not crown a great book”declared Tahar Ben Jelloun, relegating “Live fast” to the rank of “little autobiography”.
Prix Goncourt 2022: at Drouant, tensions, caviar and mektoub
War of Succession
The conflict has been brewing for a while. Last year, the controversy around Camille Laurens, sworn since 2020, had already started the cohesion of the group. The book of his companion François Noudelmann was on the first list of Goncourt and Camille Laurens had devoted a severe criticism to another novel also in the running, “The Postcard” by Anne Berest, on a similar subject. There followed a micro-scandal and a revision of the rules.
Things got even worse in October because of a trip to Beirut. Shortly before the arrival of the academicians, the Lebanese Minister of Culture accused some of the jurors of having “embraced Zionist projects in thought and practice” : “We will not allow Zionists (…) to spread the venom of Zionism in Lebanon. » After such attacks, part of the Goncourt (Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Pascal Bruckner and Pierre Assouline) deemed the trip impossible. The others (Didier Decoin, Philippe Claudel, Camille Laurens and Paule Constant) nevertheless went to Beirut and refused to publish a press release condemning the Lebanese minister’s remarks.
The Goncourt 2022 prize is awarded to Brigitte Giraud for “Live fast”
Two camps then formed, the same ones that fiercely opposed on the day of the vote, November 3. Trench warfare? War of succession in any case, as the article in Le Monde still suggested. In January, the Academy should elect its new office and perhaps a new president to succeed Didier Decoin, 77, who has held this position since 2019. The question of the replacement of Patrick Rambaud should be put to order of the day of the next Goncourt meeting. “Will we be able to come to an agreement? », slipped us one of the academicians. We can perhaps count on the good resolutions of the new year. We can also always dream.