Alexis Jenni won France’s most prestigious literary prize, the 108-year-old Prix Goncourt, for “L’Art francais de la guerre” (The French Art of War).
Jenni gets a check for a symbolic 10 euros ($13.67) and an almost certain boost in sales. He lives in Lyon and this is his first novel, according to his publisher Gallimard’s website.
The winner was announced to a crowd of journalists at Paris restaurant Drouant today. The 10-member jury, which meets at the establishment once a month, then retreated inside for its customary gastronomic lunch.
Jenni is a biology teacher at a high school, Saint-Marc, and has three children, according to a profile of him in Le Monde on Aug. 18. He wrote two other manuscripts -- one never submitted and the other rejected by editors. He won by five votes to three over Carole Martinez, who wrote “Du Domaine des Murmures” (also published by Gallimard).
The other finalists were Sorj Chalandon, for “Retour a Killybegs” (Grasset), and Lyonel Trouillot, “La belle amour humaine” (Actes Sud).
First awarded in 1903, the Prix Goncourt has honored authors such as Marcel Proust (1919), Andre Malraux (1933), Simone de Beauvoir (1954) and Marguerite Duras (1984).
Last year Michel Houellebecq won the prize for “La Carte et le Territoire,” in which an artist encounters a famous novelist named Houellebecq and helps a police inspector solve a vicious crime.