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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 09:33 GMT
'Demanding' book wins French prize
Pascal Quignard
Pascal Quignard only receives 10 euros for winning
France's top literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, has been won by Pascal Quignard with a book that has been described by critics as a "demanding" read.

Les Ombres Errantes (Wandering Shadows) is a collection of personal reflections, musings and historical memories written in a disjointed form.

Quignard, 54, had been the firm favourite to pick up the title despite it being so different to previous winners.

Jury president Edmonde Charles-Roux explained the decision: "He wrote a book that is not one novel, but 1,000 novels. We've chosen perfection - perfection contained in magnificent language."

But fellow judge Jorge Semprum, a Franco-Spanish writer, was critical of his own jury's decision, saying the book was "not innovative" and "doesn't open any new literary paths".

"In the end, it's all very Parisian, even Paris-biased," Mr Semprum added.

Gerard de Cortanze
Gerard de Cortanze won the Renaudot prize
The Prix Goncourt carries great prestige but little monetary value for the winner, as the prize is a symbolic 10 euros (6.30).

Quignard said he was "profoundly happy" about winning the Goncourt, saying it would allow him to continue writing "without problems, bother or worry."

He has compared his own book to a whirlwind of thoughts he had as a child.

"It's a sequence of beginnings of novels, stories, landscapes, autobiographical fragments. It's not a novel or an essay," he said.

He has written many novels including Tous les Matins du Monde (All the Mornings of the World), which was adapted into a movie starring Gerard Depardieu in 1991.

Author Gerard de Cortanze, also a contender for the Goncourt, received the Renaudot literary prize for Assam, a historical novel about a man who travels to India in search of a special tea plant.

De Cortanze, who has written some 40 books, based the main aristocratic haracter in Assam on one of his ancestors.

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