The jury for La Francophonie’s Prix des cinq continents met on September 26 at International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) headquarters in Paris to award Hubert Haddad (France-Tunisia) the prize for 2008 for his novel, Palestine (Éditions Zulma). OIF notes that the jury picked out the “French political fable that spoke Arabic and Hebrew, blending lyrical writing with a heightened sense of reality.”
OIF summarizes the novel as follows: “Somewhere in the West Bank between the Green Line and the ‘security belt,’ an Israeli patrol is ambushed by a Palestinian commando. One soldier is killed, another taken prisoner by the commando. Wounded and in a state of shock, the hostage loses his memory. The sole survivor, he is adopted by two Palestinian women. He becomes Nessin, a brother to Falastin and Asmahane. Nessim discovers and experiences the suffering and tension in the occupied West Bank. In this profoundly moving novel, through Falastin—a modern Antigone—Hubert Haddad transforms all the horror of the conflict into an emblematic tragedy.”
Hubert Haddad was born in Tunis in 1947 to a Tunisian father and an Algerian mother. He has written a number of novels, including Un rêve de glace, Le nouveau magasin d’écriture, Oholiba des songes, and L’univers.
According to OIF, the award will be conferred on October 13 in Québec City, Canada—the host city for the 12th Francophonie Summit of Heads of State and Government—by Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of La Francophonie, during a ceremony that will bring together the winning author and the jury members at Cabaret du Capitole.
Created by OIF, the annual Prix des cinq continents award showcases literary talents that reflect cultural and publishing diversity in the French language across the five continents. It honors a novel that describes a specific cultural experience that enriches the French language. The award is accompanied by a bursary for €10,000. OIF notes that it will promote the winner on the literary circuit until next year’s award.
Seventy-eight novels from eighteen French-speaking countries made the shortlist for this seventh edition: Algeria, the French Community of Belgium, Burkina Faso, Canada-Québec, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France et Outre mer, Haiti, Iran, Lebanon, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Vietnam. They were published by 82 publishing houses in 12 different countries.