Prix Goncourt 2011 Debut Novel Winner Announced

In Global Trade Talk by Hannah Johnson

Le fils by Michel Rostain

Michel Rostain has won the 2011 Goncourt Debut Novel Prize for 2011 for his novel, The Son (Le Fils), published by Oh! Editions in Paris. The prize was announced yesterday, 1 February.

Just two weeks after publication, The Son has already achieved bestseller status in France, according to Andrea Field, Foreign Rights Manager at Oh! Editions.

Novels shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt Debut Novel include:

  • Anne Berest: “La fille de son père” (Seuil)
  • Emilie Devaux: “A l’attention de la femme de ménage” (Stock)
  • Hélène Grémillon: “Le Confident” (Plon)
  • Denis Grozdanovitch: “La secrète mélancolie des marionnettes” (L’Olivier)
  • Thomas Heams-Ogus: “Cent seize Chinois et quelques” (Seuil)
  • Isabelle Monnin: “Les vies extraordinaires d’Eugène” (JC Lattès)

From the Oh! Editions press release:

Lion, 21 years old, dies suddenly from meningitis.
He shares with us his father’s profound sorrow and grief.

Michel Rostain speaks to us through his son’s tender and playful voice to share all the aspects of a father’s grief in the days and weeks following the death of a child, from the most moving to the most absurd moments: taking his bedding to the dry cleaner’s, going grocery shopping, the funeral home’s marketing techniques . . . He also shares his feelings of chaos and loneliness following the funeral despite the presence of his loving wife and friends, the moment when the gaping hole of absence really hits home, and the sentiment that life, somehow, keeps stubbornly trudging on, day after day.

“Eleven days after I died, Dad took my blanket to the dry cleaner’s. Walking up the Rue du Couedic, his nose buried in my bedding. He’s telling himself he’s smelling my smell, when in fact it stinks, since I never actually washed the sheets, or the blanket. He’s not shocked by it anymore, on the contrary. He’s carrying the little bit of me that is left in the smell between the sheets as if he were carrying a sacred cloth.”

Michel Rostain lives in Provence. Born in 1942, a musician and a theatre director, he founded in 1978 the “Un Théâtre pour la musique” company. From 1995 to 2008 he headed the Scène nationale de Quimper – Théâtre de Cornouailles. Le Fils is his first novel.

Visit the Oh! Editions website for more information about Michel Rostain and the book.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.