Prix Goncourt

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Prix Goncourt
Prix Goncourt.jpg
Awarded for "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year"
Date November, annual
Country France
Presented by Académie Goncourt
First awarded 1903
Official website

The Prix Goncourt (French: Le prix Goncourt, IPA: [lə pʁi ɡɔ̃kuʁ], The Goncourt Prize) is a prize in French literature, given by the académie Goncourt to the author of "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year". Four other prizes are also awarded: prix Goncourt du Premier Roman (first novel), prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle (short story), prix Goncourt de la Poésie (poetry) and prix Goncourt de la Biographie (biography). Of the "big six" French literary awards, the Prix Goncourt is the best known and most prestigious.[1] The other major literary prizes are the Grand Prix du Roman de l'Academie Francaise, the Prix Femina, the Prix Renaudot, the Prix Interallie and the Prix Medicis.[1]


Edmond de Goncourt, a successful author, critic, and publisher, bequeathed his estate for the foundation and maintenance of the académie Goncourt.[2] In honour of his brother and collaborator, Jules Alfred Huot de Goncourt (1830–1870), the académie has awarded the Prix Goncourt every December since 1903.[2] The jury that determines the winner meets at the Drouant restaurant in November to make its decision.[3] Notable winners of the prize include Marcel Proust (In Search of Lost Time), Simone de Beauvoir (The Mandarins), André Malraux (Man's Fate) and Marguerite Duras (The Lover).[2]

The award was initially established to provide talented new authors with a monetary award that would allow them to write a second book.[4] Today, the Goncourt has a token prize amount (around 10 euros), about the same amount given in 1903, and so the prestige of the prize has been explained not because of the cash-value of the prize, but "in terms of the tremendous book sales it effects: the Goncourt winner becomes an instant millionaire."[5]

In 1987, the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens was established, as a collaboration between the académie Goncourt, the French Ministry of Education, and Fnac, a book, music, and movie retailer.

The Prix Renaudot is announced at the same ceremony as the Prix Goncourt. It has become known as something of a second-place prize.[6]


Within months of the first prize in 1903, it spawned a "hostile counter-prize" in the form of the Prix Femina to counter the all-male Jury of the Goncourt with an all-female jury on the Femina.[7]

Some decisions for awarding the prize have been controversial, a famous case being the decision to award the prize in 1919 to Marcel Proust; this was met with indignation, since many in the public felt that the prize should have gone to Roland Dorgelès for Les Croix de bois, a novel about the First World War.[8][9] The prize was supposed to be awarded to promising young authors, whereas Proust was 48 (Proust was a beginning author, though, which is the only eligibility requirement for the prize, age being unimportant).[8][9]

In 1921, Rene Maran won the Goncourt with Batouala, veritable roman negre, the first French novel to openly criticize European colonialism in Africa.[10] The novel caused "violent reactions" and was banned in all the French colonies.[10]

In 1932, the prize was controversial for passing up Louis-Ferdinand Céline's Voyage au bout de la nuit for Guy Mazeline's Les Loups.[11] The voting process became the basis of the 1992 book Goncourt 32 by Eugène Saccomano.[12]

Although the award may only be given to an author once, Romain Gary won it twice, in 1956 for Les racines du ciel and again under the pseudonym Émile Ajar in 1975 for La vie devant soi.[13] The Académie Goncourt awarded the prize to Ajar without knowing his real identity.[13] A period of literary intrigue followed. Gary's cousin's son Paul Pavlowitch posed as the author for a time. Gary later revealed the truth in his posthumous book Vie et mort d'Émile Ajar.[13]


Prix Goncourt winners
Year Author French title English title Transl. year Film title Film year Notes
1903 John Antoine Nau Force ennemie Enemy Force 2010 N/A N/A
1904 Léon Frapié La Maternelle N/A N/A La Maternelle 1933
1905 Claude Farrère Les Civilisés N/A N/A N/A N/A
1906 Jérôme Tharaud Dingley, l'illustre écrivain N/A N/A N/A N/A
1907 Émile Moselly Le Rouet d'ivoire and Jean des Brebis ou le livre de la misère N/A N/A N/A N/A Pseudonym of Emile Chénin.
1908 Francis de Miomandre Écrit sur de l'eau... N/A N/A N/A N/A
1909 Marius-Ary Leblond En France N/A N/A N/A N/A
1910 Louis Pergaud De Goupil à Margot N/A N/A N/A N/A
1911 Alphonse de Châteaubriant Monsieur des Lourdines N/A N/A Monsieur des Lourdines[14] 1943
1912 André Savignon Les Filles de la pluie N/A N/A N/A N/A
1913 Marc Elder Le peuple de la mer N/A N/A N/A N/A
1914 Adrien Bertrand L'Appel du Sol The Call of the Soil 1919 N/A N/A Awarded in 1916. See footnote.[15]
1915 René Benjamin Gaspard Private Gaspard 1916 N/A N/A
1916 Henri Barbusse Le Feu Under Fire 1917 N/A N/A See footnote.[15]
1917 Henry Malherbe La Flamme au poing The Flame That Is France 1918 N/A N/A
1918 Georges Duhamel Civilisation Civilization 1919 N/A N/A
1919 Marcel Proust A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs Within a Budding Grove 1920 N/A N/A Volume 2 of In Search of Lost Time
1920 Ernest Pérochon Nêne Nêne 1920 Nène[16] 1924
1921 René Maran Batouala Batouala 1921 N/A N/A
1922 Henri Béraud Le vitriol de la lune and Le martyre de l'obèse N/A N/A N/A N/A
1923 Lucien Fabre Rabevel ou Le mal des ardents N/A N/A N/A N/A
1924 Thierry Sandre Le Chèvrefeuille, le Purgatoire, le Chapitre XIII N/A N/A N/A N/A
1925 Maurice Genevoix Raboliot N/A N/A Raboliot[17]
1926 Henri Deberly Le supplice de Phèdre The Peat-Cutters 1927 N/A N/A
1927 Maurice Bedel Jérôme 60° latitude nord Jerome: or, The Latitude of Love 1928 N/A N/A
1928 Maurice Constantin-Weyer Un Homme se penche sur son passé A Man Scans His Past 1929 Un homme se penche sur son passé[20]
Les amants de rivière rouge[21]
1929 Marcel Arland L'Ordre N/A N/A L'Ordre[22] 1985
1930 H. Fauconnier Malaisie The Soul of Malaya or Malaisie 1931 N/A N/A
1931 Jean Fayard Mal d'amour Desire 1931 N/A N/A
1932 Guy Mazeline Les Loups The Wolves 1935 N/A N/A
1933 André Malraux La Condition humaine Man's Fate 1934 N/A N/A
1934 Roger Vercel Capitaine Conan Captain Conan 1935 Capitaine Conan 1996
1935 Joseph Peyre Sang et Lumières N/A N/A N/A N/A
1936 Maxence Van Der Meersch L'Empreinte de Dieu Hath Not the Potter 1937 N/A N/A
1937 Charles Plisnier Faux passeports N/A N/A N/A N/A First foreigner to win Prix Goncourt.
1938 Henri Troyat L'Araigne N/A N/A N/A N/A
1939 Philippe Hériat Les enfants gâtés N/A N/A N/A N/A
1940 Francis Ambrière Les grandes vacances The Long Holiday 1948 N/A N/A Published and awarded in 1946 due to WWII.
Non-fiction memoir.
1941 Henri Pourrat Vent de Mars N/A N/A N/A N/A
1942 Marc Bernard Pareil à des enfants N/A N/A N/A N/A
1943 Marius Grout Passage de l'Homme When the Man Passed By 1962 N/A N/A
1944 Elsa Triolet Le premier accroc coûte 200 Francs A Fine of Two Hundred Francs 1947 N/A N/A
1945 Jean-Louis Bory Mon village à l'heure allemande N/A N/A N/A N/A
1946 Jean-Jacques Gautier Histoire d'un Fait divers N/A N/A N/A N/A
1947 Jean-Louis Curtis Les Forêts de la Nuit The Forests of the Night 1950 N/A N/A
1948 Maurice Druon Les grandes familles N/A N/A Les grandes familles[23] 1989
1949 Robert Merle Week-end à Zuydcoote Week-end at Zuydcoote 1950 Weekend at Dunkirk 1964
1950 Paul Colin Les jeux sauvages N/A N/A N/A N/A
1951 Julien Gracq Le Rivage des Syrtes The Opposing Shore 1986 N/A N/A Refused prize.
1952 Béatrix Beck Léon Morin, prêtre The Priest (UK), The Passionate Heart (US) 1953 Léon Morin, Priest
Léon Morin, prêtre[24]
1953 Pierre Gascar Les Bêtes N/A N/A N/A N/A
1954 Simone de Beauvoir Les Mandarins The Mandarins 1957 N/A N/A
1955 Roger Ikor Les eaux mêlées N/A N/A Les eaux mêlées[25] 1969
1956 Romain Gary Les racines du ciel The Roots of Heaven 1957 The Roots of Heaven 1958
1957 Roger Vailland La Loi The Law 1958 The Law 1959
1958 Francis Walder Saint-Germain ou la négociation N/A N/A N/A N/A
1959 André Schwarz-Bart Le dernier des Justes The Last of the Just 1960 N/A N/A
1960 Vintilă Horia Dieu est né en exil God Was Born in Exile 1961 N/A N/A
1961 Jean Cau La pitié de Dieu N/A N/A N/A N/A
1962 Anna Langfus Les bagages de sable N/A N/A N/A N/A
1963 Armand Lanoux Quand la mer se retire N/A N/A Quand la mer se retire[26] 1963
1964 Georges Conchon L'Etat sauvage N/A N/A L'état sauvage[27] 1978
1965 Jacques Borel L'Adoration N/A N/A N/A N/A
1966 Edmonde Charles-Roux Oublier Palerme To Forget Palermo 1968 Dimenticare Palermo 1990
1967 André Pieyre de Mandiargues La Marge The Margin 1970 The Margin[28] 1976
1968 Bernard Clavel Les fruits de l'hiver The Fruits of Winter 1969 N/A N/A
1969 Félicien Marceau Creezy N/A N/A Creezy[29] 1974
1970 Michel Tournier Le Roi des Aulnes The Erl-King (UK) or The Ogre (US) 1972 The Ogre 1996
1971 Jacques Laurent Les Bêtises N/A N/A N/A N/A
1972 Jean Carrière L'Epervier de Maheux N/A N/A N/A N/A
1973 Jacques Chessex L'Ogre A Father's Love (1975) or The Tyrant (2012) 1975 N/A N/A The translated editions from 1975 & 2012 are the same by Martin Sokolinsky.
1974 Pascal Lainé La Dentellière A Web of Lace (1976) or The Lacemaker (2008)[30] 1976 The Lacemaker 1977
1975 Émile Ajar (Romain Gary) La vie devant soi Momo (1978) or The Life Before Us (1986) 1978 Madame Rosa 1977 The rules of the Prix Goncourt state that an author can win only once. Gary had already won in 1956 for Les racines du ciel. However, since La vie devant soi was published under the pseudonym Émile Ajar, the Académie Goncourt awarded the prize without knowing the author's true identity. Gary's cousin's son Paul Pavlowitch posed as the author for a time.
1976 Patrick Grainville Les Flamboyants N/A N/A N/A N/A
1977 Didier Decoin John l'enfer N/A N/A N/A N/A
1978 Patrick Modiano Rue des boutiques obscures Missing Person 1980 N/A N/A
1979 Antonine Maillet Pélagie la Charette Pélagie: The Return to Acadie 1982 N/A N/A
1980 Yves Navarre Le Jardin d'acclimatation N/A N/A N/A N/A
1981 Lucien Bodard Anne Marie N/A N/A N/A N/A
1982 Dominique Fernandez Dans la main de l'Ange N/A N/A N/A N/A
1983 Frédérick Tristan Les égarés The Lost Ones 1991 N/A N/A
1984 Marguerite Duras L'Amant The Lover 1986 The Lover 1992
1985 Yann Queffélec Les Noces barbares The Wedding 1987 The Cruel Embrace[31] 1987
1986 Michel Host Valet de nuit N/A N/A N/A N/A
1987 Tahar Ben Jelloun La Nuit sacrée The Sacred Night 1989 La Nuit sacrée[32] 1993
1988 Érik Orsenna L'Exposition coloniale N/A N/A N/A N/A
1989 Jean Vautrin Un grand pas vers le Bon Dieu N/A N/A N/A N/A
1990 Jean Rouaud Les Champs d'honneur Fields of Glory 1992 N/A N/A
1991 Pierre Combescot Les Filles du Calvaire N/A N/A N/A N/A
1992 Patrick Chamoiseau Texaco Texaco 1998 N/A N/A
1993 Amin Maalouf Le Rocher de Tanios The Rock of Tanios 1994 N/A N/A
1994 Didier Van Cauwelaert Un Aller simple One-Way 2003 One Way Ticket[33] 2001
1995 Andreï Makine Le Testament français Dreams of My Russian Summers 1998 N/A N/A
1996 Pascale Roze Le Chasseur Zéro N/A N/A N/A N/A
1997 Patrick Rambaud La Bataille The Battle 2000 N/A N/A
1998 Paule Constant Confidence pour confidence N/A N/A N/A N/A
1999 Jean Echenoz Je m'en vais I'm Gone (US) or I'm Off (UK) 2001 N/A N/A
2000 Jean-Jacques Schuhl Ingrid Caven Ingrid Caven 2004 N/A N/A
2001 Jean-Christophe Rufin Rouge Brésil Brazil Red 2004 N/A N/A
2002 Pascal Quignard Les Ombres errantes The Roving Shadows 2011 N/A N/A
2003 Jacques-Pierre Amette La maîtresse de Brecht Brecht's Lover (US) or Brecht's Mistress (UK) 2005 N/A N/A
2004 Laurent Gaudé Le Soleil des Scorta The House of Scorta (US 2006) The Scortas' Sun (UK 2007) 2006 N/A N/A
2005 François Weyergans Trois jours chez ma mère N/A N/A N/A N/A
2006 Jonathan Littell Les Bienveillantes The Kindly Ones 2009 N/A N/A
2007 Gilles Leroy Alabama song N/A N/A N/A N/A
2008 Atiq Rahimi Syngué Sabour: La pierre de patience Stone of Patience (UK) or The Patience Stone (US) 2010 N/A N/A
2009 Marie NDiaye Trois femmes puissantes Three Strong Women 2012 N/A N/A
2010 Michel Houellebecq La Carte et le territoire The Map and the Territory 2012 N/A N/A
2011 Alexis Jenni L'Art français de la guerre N/A N/A N/A N/A
2012 Jérôme Ferrari Le Sermon sur la chute de Rome N/A N/A N/A N/A
2013 Pierre Lemaitre Au revoir là-haut The Great Swindle 2015 N/A N/A
2014 Lydie Salvayre Pas pleurer N/A N/A N/A N/A
2015 Mathias Énard Boussole N/A N/A N/A N/A
  • Translations full audit: March 2009[34]
  • Films full audit: February 2011[35]
  • Translation date is of first translation, later ones may be available.
  • Website of the Academie Goncourt with list of past winners.

Other awards[edit]

In addition to the Prix Goncourt for a novel, the Academy Awards four other awards, for first novel, short story, biography and poetry.

As of March 2009, the académie changed the award name by dropping "bourses" ("scholarship") from the title.[36][37] The prefix "prix" can be included or not, such as "Prix Goncourt de la Poésie" (Goncourt prize for Poetry) or "Goncourt de la Poésie" (Goncourt of Poetry). For example: "Claude Vigée was awarded a Goncourt de la Poésie in 2008". Or, "Claude Vigée won the 2008 prix Goncourt de la Poésie".

The award titles are:

Pre-2009 award name Post-2009 award name Category
Bourse Goncourt de la Biographie Prix Goncourt de la Biographie Biography
Bourse Goncourt de la Nouvelle Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle Short story
Bourse Goncourt du Premier Roman Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman Debut novel
Bourse Goncourt de la Poésie Prix Goncourt de la Poésie Poetry
Bourse Goncourt Jeunesse discontinued Juvenile

The winners are listed below.[38]

Prix Goncourt de la Biographie[edit]

Goncourt Prize for biography. Awarded in partnership with the city of Nancy.

Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle[edit]

Goncourt Prize for short stories. Begun in 1974 in the form of scholarships. Awarded in partnership with the city of Strasbourg since 2001.

Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman[edit]

Goncourt Prize for debut novel. Awarded in partnership with the municipality of Paris.

Prix Goncourt de la Poésie[edit]

Goncourt Prize for poetry. Established through the bequest of Adrien Bertrand (Prix Goncourt in 1914). The award is for the poet's entire career work.

Bourse Goncourt Jeunesse[edit]

Goncrout Prize for children's literature. Awarded in partnership with the municipality of Fontvieille. Discontinued after 2007.

See also[edit]

For a more comprehensive overview a list of literary awards is available.


  1. ^ a b Unwin, Timothy (1997). "Introduction". The Cambridge Companion to the French Novel: From 1800 to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. xxii. The 'big six' literary prizes in France have an extremely high profile and are, significantly, all awarded for novels. The best known and most prestigious is the Prix Goncourt. The other major literary prizes are the Grand Prix du Roman de l'Academie Francaise, the Prix Femina (awarded by a jury of women, though not necessarily to a female novelist), the Prix Renaudot, the Prix Interallie and the Prix Medicis. 
  2. ^ a b c Burke, David (2008). Writers In Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light. Counterpoint Press. p. 181. 
  3. ^ Glyn, Anthony (2000). The Companion Guide to Paris. Companion Guides. p. 98. 
  4. ^ Sally J. Scholz (2005). The Contradictions of Freedom: Philosophical Essays on Simone de Beauvoir's The Mandarins. SUNY Press. p. 18. 
  5. ^ James F English (2009). The Economy of Prestige: prizes, awards, and the circulation of cultural value. Harvard University Press. p. 61. 
  6. ^ Hollier, Denis (1994). A New History of French Literature. Harvard University Press. p. 967. 
  7. ^ James F English (2009). The Economy of Prestige: prizes, awards, and the circulation of cultural value. Harvard University Press. p. 61. 
  8. ^ a b Rodic, Vesna (2008). Lyricism and Politics in Paul Valery's Poetry and Poetic Theory and in "La Nouvelle Revue Francaise", 1909--1939. ProQuest. 
  9. ^ a b Katherine Ashley (ed) (2004). "L'Attribution du prix Goncourt à Proust en 1919". Prix Goncourt, 1902-2003: essals critiques (in French). Bern: Peter Lang. 
  10. ^ a b Unwin, Timothy (1997). "The colonial and postcolonial Francophone novel". The Cambridge Companion to the French Novel: From 1800 to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. 195. 
  11. ^ Katherine Ashley (ed) (2004). Prix Goncourt, 1902-2003: essals critiques (in French). Bern: Peter Lang. p. 16. 
  12. ^ Lapaque, Sébastien (16 September 1999). "Céline-Mazeline sur le ring". Le Figaro (in French). 
  13. ^ a b c Katherine Ashley (ed) (2004). "Avant propos". Prix Goncourt, 1902-2003: essals critiques (in French). Bern: Peter Lang. 
  14. ^ Monsieur des Lourdines at IMDB
  15. ^ a b No award was given in 1914 due to the war. In 1916 two awards were given, one for 1916 (Barbusse) and one for 1914 (Bertrand).
  16. ^ Nène at IMDB
  17. ^ Raboliot at IMDB
  18. ^ Raboliot at IMDB
  19. ^ Raboliot at IMDB
  20. ^ Un homme se penche sur son passé at IMDB
  21. ^ Les amants de rivière rouge at IMDB
  22. ^ L'Ordre at IMDB
  23. ^ Les grandes familles at IMDB
  24. ^ Léon Morin, prêtre at IMDB
  25. ^ Les eaux mêlées at IMDB
  26. ^ Quand la mer se retire at IMDB
  27. ^ L'état sauvage at IMDB
  28. ^ The Margin at IMDB
  29. ^ Creezy at IMDB
  30. ^ Translated by David Dugan. The Dirty Goat, issue 18, pg. 170.
  31. ^ The Cruel Embrace at IMDB
  32. ^ La Nuit sacrée at IMDB
  33. ^ One Way Ticket at IMDB
  34. ^ Sources used for checking translations:,,
  35. ^ Source used for checking films:
  36. ^ Autres prix décernés par l'Académie Goncourt
  37. ^ Les Goncourt surfent, Le Figaro, 29 January 2009
  38. ^ Autres prix décernés par l'Académie Goncourt: Lauréats
  39. ^ "Le Goncourt de la biographie à Jean Lebrun pour "Notre Chanel"". (in French). AFP. June 3, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  40. ^ Eloy, Morgane (June 3, 2015). "Jean-Christophe Attias, prix Goncourt de la biographie". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  41. ^ Marie-Christine Imbault (March 4, 2014). "Le Goncourt de la Nouvelle récompense Nicolas Cavaillès". (in French). Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  42. ^ Auproux, Agathe (May 5, 2015). "Le prix Goncourt de la nouvelle est attribué à Patrice Franceschi". (in French). Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  43. ^ Dargent, Françoise (March 4, 2013). "Frédéric Verger, Goncourt du premier roman". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Le Goncourt du premier roman 2015". Academie Goncourt. May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  45. ^ a b c
  46. ^ Auproux, Agathe (May 5, 2015). "Le prix Goncourt de la poésie Robert Sabatier est décerné à William Cliff". Livres Hebdo (in French). Retrieved July 3, 2015.