French novelist ruled out of major prize after antisemitic drawings emerge | Prix Goncourt

Judges of France’s top literary award, the Goncourt prize, have said they decided not to include popular author Yann Moix’s autobiographical novel Orléans on their shortlist after the emergence of antisemitic drawings and texts made by Moix in his 20s.

The offending works, published in a student magazine, were uncovered by L’Express in late August, shortly after the publication of Moix’s novel, which depicts childhood abuse he allegedly suffered himself. The French author, now 51, who won the Goncourt for his first novel in 1996, initially only admitted responsibility for the drawings before acknowledging he had also written the texts.

“I wrote, I drew, I produced crap. These texts and these drawings are antisemitic, but I am not an antisemite,” he told Libération. “Today, the man I am is ashamed. The whole journey I have made since then, my journey as a man, is the story of someone who has tried to escape this toxic geography, to extract myself from this trap.”

After the shortlist of 15 novels was announced earlier this week, president of the Goncourt Academy, Bernard Pivot, explained to RTL why Moix was not on it. The second part of the novel is notably worse than the first, he said, but the judges were also concerned that were they to shortlist it, “inevitably, we will be accused across social media of promoting antisemitism via an antisemite”.

Pivot said he was also disinclined to include the book because it has sparked a “family controversy and the Academy doesn’t like it when a book is challenged by the father and the brother”. Moix’s father has denied the physical abuse which Moix portrays in Orléans, and his brother Alexandre Moix has said the “abuse and humiliations of a rare violence” that Moix attributes in the novel to their parents was actually done by Moix to him.

The Goncourt president said that Moix had “a great talent … but unfortunately he has an immoderate taste for controversy and provocation”.

Moix is known as a provocateur, earlier this year telling Marie-Claire magazine’s French edition that he was incapable of loving a woman over 50. “Come on now, let’s not exaggerate! That’s not possible … too, too old,” he said in January.

According to Alexandre Moix, writing in Le Parisen, “in his life, my brother has only two obsessions: to win the Prix Goncourt and to annihilate me”.

Source: The Guardian

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