Senegal born writer Mohamed Mbougar Sarr won the French Voices Award 2017 for his novel Terre Ceinte (Earth Girdle) on February 6, 2018. Also being awarded was his translator into English Alexia Trigo and the publisher Presence Africaine.
The French Voices Awards are a partnership of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the USA, in partnership with the PEN American Center and celebrate a work in French that has been translated in English. The award worth $6000 is shared between the publisher and the translator ($4,000 and $2,000 respectively) and the Grand prize winner receives $10,000 in total ($6,000 to cover the preface and the publishing costs and a $4,000 non-negotiable bonus to be allocated to the translator; $7,000 and $3,000 in case of a comic book or picture book, respectively). Previous winners of this award are Alain Mabanckou, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Scholastique Mukasonga, Yasmina Khadra, Léonora Miano, and Abdourahman A. Waberi.
Those in the running for the award this past year included Nathalie Azoulai (Titus did not like Bérénice , POL, 2015), Stéphane Bouquet ( Common Life , Champ Vallon , 2016), Sarah Gensburger (RAM. Chronicles of a district Bataclan 2015-2016 , Anamosa, 2017), Alexander Leupin ( Edouard Glissant, philosopher: Heraclitus, Hegel and the All World , Hermann, 2016), Maryam Madjidi ( Marx and the doll , The New Attila, 2017) , Patrice Nganang (The plum season , Philippe Rey, 2013), Martin Page ( Beekeeping according to Samuel Beckett , L’Olivier, 2013) and Anne Percin ( My mother, the crab and me , Rouergue, 2015).
The main award would however go to the Mohamed Mbougar Sarr for his debut novel Terre Ceinte, which has been translated by Alexia Trigo. This wasn’t the first time that the book has be the source of the writer’s glory as it won the Grand Prix of the 2015 Métis novel as well as the Ahmadou Kourouma prize.
The award was handed at a ceremony in the French Embassy in New York with the writer receiving it in absentia. He was represented by the translator and Souleymane Bachir Diagne a great supporter to the French Voices Committee and mentor.