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French students represent Cardiff at celebrated literary prize

13 April 2022

Gemma Buil Ferri and Zoe Titmus with French lecturer, Hamid Sahki
Gemma Buil Ferri and Zoe Titmus with French lecturer, Hamid Sahki

Students from a French reading circle took part in a prestigious ceremony for a French book prize at the Institut Français and French Embassy in London this March.

Gemma Buil Ferri and Zoe Titmus represented their Cardiff University reading circle at the deliberations and prize ceremony for the Choix Goncourt UK, a literary competition which sees French novels from the past year discussed and debated by students from UK universities.

The prize is an offshoot of the Prix Goncourt, the French equivalent of the Man Booker Prize. All shortlisted titles for the Prix Goncourt are automatically put into the Choix Goncourt UK prize.

Since October 2021, more than 100 French language and literature students from 15 British universities have been discussing the shortlisted novels Le Voyage dans l’Est by Christine Angot, Enfant de Salaud by Sorj Chalandon, Milwaukee Blues by Louis-Philippe Dalembert, and La Plus Secrète Mémoire des hommes by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr.

As part of the ceremony, Gemma and Zoe presented on the novel Le Voyage dans l’Est to the distinguished audience which included leading figures from the worlds of publishing, academia and the Francophone community in the UK.

This year’s prize was awarded to Mohamed Mbougar Sarr for his book, La Plus Secrète Mémoire des hommes which was a second win for the author who was also announced as the winner of the Prix Goncourt in November 2021.

Gemma and Zoe were accompanied to the ceremony by members of the French team at the School of Modern Languages Professor Claire Gorrara and Hamid Sahki. Speaking of the event and the students who took part Hamid Sahki said, “Gemma and Zoe represented the 16 students who enrolled for the Choix Goncourt UK in 2022. They represent the multilingualism which gives its identity to the School of Modern Languages. I was fascinated by the courage and the freedom with which Gemma and Zoe captured the style of Christine Angot, one of the most radical voices of the modern French Literature.”

Choix Goncourt UK promotes the teaching of French and Francophone language and literature, and the translation and publication of contemporary authors. It is organised by the Higher Education, Research and Innovation Department of the French Embassy in the United Kingdom and the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, in partnership with the historic French literary society, the Académie Goncourt.


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