The Thyde-Monnier Grand Prize from the Société des Gens de Lettres awarded to D’un pays sans amour (Grasset)
Paris, November 16, 2011
On 14 November, Gilles Rozier received the Thyde-Monnier Grand Prize from the Société des Gens de Lettres (SGDL) for his book D’un pays sans amour, published by Editions Grasset.
“I was born inside a Jewish kingdom, a city where you could live your entire life speaking only this language that was born a millennium ago on the banks of the Rhine, but which also felt just as at home along the edges of the Vistula.” Thus spoke Sulamita, a venerable old lady with a vivid memory who lived the Central European experience, singing, living, lying and breathing in Yiddish as she made her way through such centres as Moscow, Bucharest, Warsaw and Lvov.
Pierre, a young man who is initially cold but who later reveals a passionate nature, becomes a friend to Sulamita, who has shut herself away from the world in her palace in Rome. He questions her about the lives of three poets, shooting stars whose paths crossed in the starry sky of Warsaw in 1922: Peretz Markish, Uri-Zvi Grinberg and Melek Ravitsch. Do these names mean nothing to you? What does it matter? One of them emigrated to Palestine in 1923 and another joined the Soviet communists in 1926, while the third travelled from Manchuria to Mexico before settling in Montreal. They were 20 years old, had mistresses, and enjoyed the glory of linguistic revolutionaries and a passion for life that disintegrated in the face of unparalleled disaster when Yiddishland disappeared: its lands and books, body and soul – but not really the soul: it is here, in these pages infused with stories and cries, anecdotes and poems, in this novel about mad love galloping along the crest of burned-out empires, Austro-Hungary, the Third Reich and Old Europe. “Mother, we arrive from a land without love, from a country without God, the Flood on our minds and dusk in our blood.”
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