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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 17:58 GMT
Gaude wins top French book prize
Laurent Gaude
Gaude: Author of several novels and plays
France's top literary award, the Prix Goncourt, has gone to Laurent Gaude for an epic tale set in southern Italy.

Le Soleil des Scorta (The Sun of the Scortas) describes the struggle of a family to escape poverty in the fictional village of Montepuccio.

"There is something cinematographic about it which is very seductive," said one of the judges, Didier Decoin.

Gaude won wide acclaim for an earlier novel, The Death of King Tsongor. He is also an accomplished playwright.

The Sun of the Scortas spans five generations.

It describes how the children of the "brigand" Rocco Scorta Mascalzone try in vain to emigrate to the US, but end up returning to the village, where they run a tobacconist's shop - proud but struggling to make ends meet.

Gaude, 32, lives in Paris and has travelled extensively in Italy.

The Prix Goncourt, inaugurated in 1903, carries great prestige. It is awarded by a 10-member committee which holds its meetings in the celebrated central Paris restaurant Chez Drouant.

Gaude's publisher Actes Sud is a small company based in the southern town of Arles, the French news agency AFP reports.

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