Short story contest: a successful second edition
22 February 2023
Very nice article by Mohammed Aissaoui in Le Figaro about the Marcel Pagnol Prize winner Bruno Masi and his book “La Californie” published by J.C. Lattès.
His novel, La Californie (JC Lattès), seduced the entire jury. A singular voice was born. The author received his award at Fouquet’s. Despite the dramatic fire suffered by Le Fouquet’s last March, the prestigious establishment opens its lounges for exceptional events, like this Monday, June 24, for the Marcel Pagnol Prize. On this occasion, we learned good news: Fouquet’s should open to the public in mid-July. The Marcel Pagnol Award ceremony, created and organized by Floryse Grimaud, with the support of Nicolas Pagnol, the grandson of the author of Manon des sources, took place in the aptly named Raimu lounge. At 7 p.m., the jury chairman, Daniel Picouly, always facetious, first gave the list of the six finalists, and asked for applause for each of them. Seventeen years, by Éric Fottorino (Gallimard) La Californie, by Bruno Masi (JC Lattès) Les amers remarquables, by Emmanuelle Grangé (Arléa) Rue des pâquerettes, by Mehdi Charef (Hors d’atteinte) Tu n’as pas de cœur…, by Christine Jordis (Albin Michel) Vol d’hommes, by Marie Lebey (Éditions de Fallois).
The artist FKDL (Franck Duval), who draws the poster for the Marcel Pagnol Award every year, it was only natural that he should join the jury; Grégoire Delacourt, winner of the 2011 Marcel Pagnol Award, and the novelist Colombe Schneck, who also won the award last year.” LIRE AUSSI – My Father, by Grégoire Delacourt: the children of silence A literary gem And “the winner” is… Daniel Picouly thought he was the president of the Cannes Film Festival. And it is a novelist as handsome as an actor who was chosen: Bruno Masi, for his second novel La Californie (title, we will see, which has little to do with Hollywood). Published by Lattès, the author arrived accompanied by Véronique Cardi, the president, and Anne-Sophie Stefanini, his editor, as well as the house authors. Needless to say, the smiles were wide and the smartphones overloaded. At a glance, a million photos were taken. Le Figaro littéraire had noticed this magnificent novel, a sort of “Attrape-cœurs” between concrete and beach, which narrates the elucidations of a thirteen-year-old child left to his own devices. All the jurors were won over: with Bruno Masi, a singular voice was born. Moreover, his moving speech resembled his book. It is not by chance that the 2019 winner cited one of his lesser-known works in Pagnol’s oeuvre: La prière aux étoiles (it is also an unfinished film by Pagnol). Literary awards are also intended to discover new talents, and in this respect, the Marcel Pagnol Award has perfectly fulfilled its mission.
California is a literary gem. It features an idle kid, Marcus Miope, who announces the color rather quickly: “I was only thirteen and I couldn’t put words to the flood of emotions that gripped my chest.” For his age, he is already very mature. Too mature, even. It is the lot of children born in a broken family. A gallery of portraits There is no father. His mother Annie tells us that he was born from a love at first sight with an American sailor when an aircraft carrier had anchored for a few days in the harbor. The family lives near the highway, in a southern city by the sea, between the beach and the concrete. Her brother Dimitri is the result of a meeting with a truck driver that her mother had met when she was a fruit and vegetable seller along the highway. But she discovered that he was married and had two children… As for Annie, she spent her time running away from home and leaving her two children on their own, without money or news. In this strange family, one disappears as one breathes, without saying goodbye.
Nothing matters. “That’s the way it was,” says Marcus. So much for the picture. It’s understandable that the thirteen-year-old is gripped by a whole flood of emotions and that this life scares him: “I’ve always been afraid of this, of the arrival of misfortune and suffering without anything to prepare me for it.” Often sitting on the ledge of a footbridge under which the freeway passes, Marcus dreams of California as the cars pass under his feet. We won’t reveal the plot by saying that the child will never take a plane to Los Angeles – the essential is elsewhere, in his elucidations, his thoughts where we detect an already damaged soul. “Building, that’s it: accumulating the fake bricks of our happiness,” he says, making fun of a slogan read on a sign: “Long live the intoxication of life!” The writer paints a magnificent gallery of portraits, a sort of Court of Miracles, with Annie and Dimitri, but also the friend Virgil, Abdé the baker’s son, the barely caressed girls, Penelope and Noémie-Mélodie. Bruno Masi mentioned them all, his characters had come with him to Fouquet’s…
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