French Lit Prizes Under Attack

A French anti-government watchdog has attacked the top French literary prizes (Femina, Medicis, Goncourt, etc.) for being open to corruption.

France’s major literary awards such as the Prix Femina, the Prix Medicis and – most prestigious of all – the Prix Goncourt have long been accused of rigging their votes, taking it in turns to reward big publishers.

Of the four best-known names in French publishing, Gallimard has won the Goncourt 34 times, Grasset 16 times, Albin Michel 11 and Seuil five. Perhaps in response to mounting resentment, the prize went last year to a small and relatively recent house, Actes Sud.

The situation is unlikely to change soon–membership in juries doesn’t rotate often, if at all. It’d be interesting to see a similar survey conducted here.