Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s novel La plus Secrète Mémoire Des Hommes is the winner of Prix Goncourt 2021, France’s most prestigious literary award. The announcement has been made today, November 3, 2021.
The Prix Goncourt is given by the French Académie Goncourt to the author of “the best and most imaginative prose work of the year”. While it only has a token prize of around 10 Euros, it can increase the sales of a book by up to 200,000 to its winner. Moroccan-born Leila Slimani won the prize in 2016 and Djaïli Amadou Amal made the shortlist in 2020.
The Goncourt Academy, chaired by Didier Decoin, is made up of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Pascal Bruckner, Paule Constant, Patrick Rambaud, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Camille Laurens, Françoise Chandernagor, Philippe Claudel and Pierre Assouline. They announced the first selection for the prize on September 7 before the finalists were revealed on October 26.
The winner of the prize announced today is Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s La plus secrète mémoire des hommes published by Philippe Rey. He obtained six votes in the first round, announced Philippe Claudel, secretary general of Goncourt.
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar, Senegal and studied literature and philosophy at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Brotherhood, his first novel, won the Grand Prix du Roman Métis, the Prix Ahmadou Kourouma, and the French Voices Grand Prize. He was named Chevalier of the National Order of Merit by the president of Senegal. At 31 years of age, he is one of the youngest winners and the only Senegalese and Black African winner of the award.
The novel La plus secrète mémoire des hommes (English: The most secret memory of men) which is his fourth novel has the following blurb (translated from French by Google);
In 2018, Diégane Latyr Faye, a young Senegalese writer, discovered in Paris a mythical book, published in 1938: The Labyrinth of the Inhuman. We have lost track of its author, qualified in his time as a “Negro Rimbaud”, since the scandal triggered by the publication of his text. Diégane then sets out, fascinated, on the trail of the mysterious T. C. Elimane, where he faces the great tragedies of colonialism or the Shoah. From Senegal to France via Argentina, what truth awaits him in the center of this labyrinth?
Without ever losing the thread of this quest which monopolizes him, Diégane, in Paris, frequents a group of young African authors: all observe each other, discuss, drink, make love a lot, and wonder about the need for it. creation from exile. He will especially focus on two women: the sulphurous Siga, holder of secrets, and the fleeting photojournalist Aïda …
Perpetually inventive, The Most Secret Memory of Men is a dizzying novel, dominated by the demand for a choice between writing and life, or even by the desire to go beyondthe question of face-to-face between Africa and the West. It is above all a love song for literature and its timeless power.