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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 08:40 GMT
French doctor wins top book prize
Goncourt winner Jean-Christophe Rufin
Dr Rufin has already won two other literary prizes
France's top literary award has gone to a former official of the humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Jean-Christophe Rufin won the award for his "ecological novel" Rouge Bresil (Red Brazil).

The prize amounts to just 7.6 euros (£4.70) - but it guarantees sales in the hundreds of thousands.

Each year's winner is selected by the Goncourt jury each year at the Drouant restaurant, near the Opera in Paris.

Martine Le Coz
The Renaudot prize went to a Martine Le Coz
The jury chooses what it believes to be the best new work of literature - making its author into an instant celebrity in France.

Rufin, who won by a single vote, said that he "cried like a baby" when he heard the news of the prize.

"I was convinced I wouldn't get this prize," he told LCI television.

Rouge Bresil is a historical novel which tells the story of the French conquest of Brazil during the Renaissance through the eyes of two children in search of their parents.

"It's a form of an ecological novel, if you like - it's the confrontation of two different and opposing concepts of nature," the author told France-Info radio.

Dr Rufin, who is the former vice-president of the humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres, began writing only in 1997 - but immediately won a Goncourt in the first novel category for his book L'Abyssin (The Abyssinian).

Rufin also won another literary award in 1999 with his novel Les Causes Perdues (Lost Causes).

A second prestigious prize, the Renaudot, went to another novel with a historic setting, Celeste by Martine Le Coz.

See also:

07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Atwood wins Booker Prize
15 Oct 99 | Europe
In pictures: MSF in action
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