William Rodarmor’s Translation of Nicolas Mathieu Wins the French 2021 Albertine Prize

In News by Porter Anderson

The 2018 Prix Goncourt laureate Nicolas Mathieu joined his English translator William Rodarmor at the Albertine Prize ceremony and celebration in New York City.

At the Albertine Prize award ceremony. Image: Albertine, Argenis Apolinario

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Bruel: ‘This Remarkable Achievement’
Originally published by Actes Sud in 2018, and the winner of that year’s Prix Goncourt, Nicolas Mathieu’s And Their Children After Them (Other Press, 2020) in its translation to English by William Rodarmor has won the $US10,000 Albertine Prize.

The win was announced Wednesday (December 8) at an invitational party at Albertine, the bookshop of the French Embassy in New York City. Both the book’s author and its translator were at the event, and their work was chosen by a vote of the Albertine reading membership.

In making the announcement, Gaëtan Bruel, the embassy’s cultural counselor, said, “And Their Children After Them explores a decade whose urgent questions—of gender and sexuality, de-industrialization, environmentalism, and more—strikingly mirror our own.

“The result is both moving and provocative, speaking to French and American readers with equal strength.

Gaëtan Bruel

“My congratulations to Nicolas Mathieu and William Rodarmor for this remarkable achievement, and to our Albertine members, our cherished, faithful and astute community of readers.”

The prize was presented to Mathieu and Rodarmor by the two honorary chairs of the prize program—Rachel Kushner, editor-at-large of the New York Review of Books, and Daniel Mendelsohn, who directs the Robert B. Silvers Foundation.

In his critique of the book for The New York Times (April 7, 2020), Thomas Chatterton Williams writes, “Mathieu’s novel won France’s top literary award, the Prix Goncourt, in late 2018, just as the Yellow Vest protests began metastasizing across the country, seemingly out of nowhere and ostensibly over a trivial fuel tax increase.

“France’s business, political, and cultural winners scrambled to understand what was going on. The traditional narrative of the left-right divide could not capture the leaderless movement’s hodgepodge assortment of prejudices, grievances, and demands (a chaos in which a nativist party like the National Rally naturally thrives). The question suddenly arose: Just who are these proud and wounded men and women who’d come to feel so unseen that the reasonable solution seemed to be to throw on reflective vests and stand in the middle of the road?”

Williams concluded that the book captures not only the obvious art-for-art’s-sake value but also “that other, mysterious appeal in which a story resonates in ways that even the most devastating sociology and journalism cannot.”

The 2021 Albertine Prize Shortlist

Translator William Rodarmor, left, talks at the 2021 Albertine Prize award ceremony, with author Nicolas Mathieu beside him. Image: Albertine, Argenis Apolinario

Author Translator Title Translation Publisher French Publisher
Nicolas Mathieu William Rodarmor And Their Children After Them Other Press, 2020 Actes Sud, 2018
Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tâm Ruth Diver Arcadia Seven Stories Press, 2021 POL, 2018
Emmanuel Dongala Marjolijn de Jager The Bridgewater Sonata: Sonata Mulattica Schaffner Press, 2021 Actes Sud, 2017
Louis-Philippe Dalembert Marjolijn de Jager The Mediterranean Wall Schaffner Press, 2021 Sabine Wespieser, 2019
Pauline Delabroy-Allard Adriana Hunter They Say Sarah Other Press, 2020 Éditions de Minuit, 2018

For those interested, information on membership in the Albertine program is here.

At the announcement ceremony for the 2021 Albertine Prize in New York City. Image: Albertine, Argenis Apolinario

More from Publishing Perspectives on Albertine and its programming is here. More from us on the French market is here, and more from us on translation is here

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.