No lovers allowed in top French book prize after ethics scandal
Novelist and jury member Camille Laurens wrote a scathing review of one of her boyfriend's competitors. JOEL SAGET AFP

France's top literary prize, the Goncourt, will no longer allow lovers and family members of the jury to be entered for consideration, it was announced Tuesday, following a scandal last month.

It was revealed in September that one of the jury members, Camille Laurens, was the girlfriend of philosopher Francois Noudelmann, who was shortlisted for his memoir "Les Enfants de Cadillac" ("The children of Cadillac").

Not only that, but it emerged that she had written a scathing review in Le Monde of one of its competitors for the prize, "La Carte postale", shortly after the shortlist was announced.

At the time, the Goncourt Academy defended its decision to include Noudelmann's book, saying they had discussed the relationship and decided it was "not a reason to penalise a good book."

But they have since back-tracked, announcing a new rule that states: "Works by spouses, partners or close family cannot be considered."

They also made clear that: "Jury members who hold a literary position in the media must absent themselves from writing on works in the selection."

The distaste with Laurens' review in Le Monde was already clear last month, with Didier Decoin, president of the Goncourt Academy, telling France Inter radio: "I didn't like that at all. And we will talk about it."

Laurens has not been removed from the jury, but that will be the punishment for anyone breaking the rules in future, the academy stated.

Noudelmann has, however, paid the price, with his book removed from the shortlist.

Francois Noudelmann's book was removed from the Goncourt shortlistFrancois Noudelmann's book was removed from the Goncourt shortlist JOEL SAGET AFP

The winner from the remaining nine books will be announced on November 3.

They only get 10 euros, but a large amount of publicity.

© 2021 AFP