France loves its literary awards and one of the big ones is coming up soon – the Prix Goncourt. The prize money is only €10 but the prestige is enormous. Everyone wants to win it.

And here is this year’s shortlist.

Vassilis Alexakis : L’enfant grec (Stock)

This doesn’t appeal massively I’m afraid. It features Death in the form of a giant puppet dressed in white with chicken’s feet in place of hands. Nuff said. Kindle version is €14.99

A typically understated and uncatchy cover

Gwenaëlle Aubry : Partages (Mercure de France)

This appears slightly more interesting than the first one. Possibly. It’s about Sarah, a Polish Jew, and Leila, who grew up in a Jordanian refugee camp. They’re both 17, these sœurs ennemies (enemy sisters) and are drawn together in the streets of Jerusalem. Kindle version is €12.99

Thierry Beinstingel : Ils désertent (Fayard)

A wallpaper salesperson, 40 years in the job, is obsessed with the correspondence of Rimbaud. Crikey. Kindle version is €13.99

Serge Bramly : Orchidée fixe (JC Lattes)

The author tells us he started writing this book 20 years ago and has been toying with it ever since. Finally he’s finished it. And I thought I was slow only managing a couple of novels a year! It involves a young woman who lives in Tel Aviv, to where her parents emigrated, and a teacher at Colorado University. There’s a lot to do with cause and effect, apparently. Kindle €12.99

Patrick Deville : Peste et choléra (Seuil)

This one actually looks interesting. It’s the biography of a young researcher on Pasteur’s team, Alexandre Yersin, and follows his travels and discoveries in Asia. Kindle €12.99. And I accidentally bought the book whilst researching this. Darn. That ‘buy this book’ button is just too hittable-by-mistake.

And another one

Joël Dicker : La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Québert (Fallois)

Marcus Goldman, a young writer, is struggling to meet a deadline but suddenly his friend, Harry Québert, is accused of murder back in 1975. Marcus hurries to investigate the matter and help Harry. Dead tree only €20.90

Mathias Enard : Rue des voleurs (Actes Sud)

Something profound to do with the Arab spring. Kindle €14.99

Actually, you know what, I’m going to give up here in case I buy another book I don’t want! Plus I am slightly losing the will to live. As with most renowned literary awards (Booker, Orange etc) the books that get shortlisted aren’t really my cup of tea, I have to say. I’m not one for heavy or pretentious literature. I’m a bit of a paranormal romance chick these days, but I do get to read a lot of good, entertaining books in my roles of freelance ebook editor and book reviewer. So I for one don’t think I’ll be holding my breath for the Goncourt results! And I hope you noticed the high prices for these books. French publishers still don’t quite get the notion of the ebook. I cannot see the justification for charging nearly as much for an ebook as for the paper version of it, for obvious reasons.

Here are the rest of the shortlisted books in case you want to have a look for yourselves: Jérôme Ferrari : Le sermon sur la chute de Rome (Actes Sud), Gaspard-Marie Janvier : Quel trésor ! (Fayard), Linda Lê : Lame de fond (Bourgois), Tierno Monenembo : Le terroriste noir (Seuil), Joy Sorman : Comme une bête (Gallimard).

And finally, you can meet the jury, all rather elderly and rather male in my opinion, here. I can’t help thinking that a more respresentative cross section of French society as judges might make the whole contest more lively and relevant.  Just saying.