Italian literary prizewinners for 2015

We try, each year, to draw your attention to the literary prizewinners of various European countries. We have written in the past of the five major Italian prizes and in July last year we posted the results of the 2015 Strega prize after Nicola Lagioia had won with his novel La ferocia (C208.c.9478).

The Strega is undoubtedly the most prestigious of the Italian literary prizes, but there are 4 others we have highlighted in recent years and below are the winners for 2015: Continue reading

Libris Geschiedenis Prijs for 2014 : recent prizewinners on Dutch history

In deciding which Dutch language titles to buy, the Library needs to be very selective, bearing in mind that the audience for such material amongst our readership is small. What we buy in Dutch is a small percentage of Holland’s total publishing output. On the other hand the Library has excellent collections of Dutch material, and providing continuity in our collection development is important. The Dutch language collection currently numbers about 22,000 items, and we add between 200 and 250 new titles each year. Our main focus is on history, fine arts, church history and medieval literature. Contemporary literature is acquired much more selectively.

The annual Libris Geschiedenis Prijs is a useful indicator of important recent titles in Dutch history, and the shortlist is scrutinised carefully. We buy many but not all of the titles featured, restricting our choice to books relating to the Dutch-speaking world. We did not acquire the 2010 winner, for example, a book in Dutch on the history of the Congo by David van Reybrouck, although this later appeared in English translation and was therefore received under legal deposit (649:2.c.201.29).

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Strega Prize 2015


One of the first meetings of the Amici della Domenica (image taken from Wikimedia Commons)

In a post last September we gave an overview of the most important literary prizes awarded in Italy, the most prestigious being the Strega prize. Last night the 2015 Premio Strega was awarded to Nicola Lagioia for his novel La ferocia.The Premio Strega was established in 1947 by the journalist Guido Bellonci and his wife, the novelist Maria Villavecchia Bellonci, with the financial support of Guido Alberti, the owner of the firm Strega, which still produces a popular herbal liqueur. In the aftermath of the Second World War and after twenty years of cultural oppression under the fascist regime, their hope was to revitalize a free intellectual debate with the help of their Amici della Domenica or ‘Sunday friends’, a group of artists and intellectuals who formed a literary salon in the Bellonci residence in Rome. This group included, for example, Massimo Bontempelli, Guido Piovene, Carlo Bernari, Paola Masino, Paolo Monelli, Palma Bucarelli and Alberto Savinio.

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French-speaking literature and literary prizes outside of France

When we think of French literature, the first names that spring to mind are those of the great metropolitan writers such as Proust or Balzac. But “la francophonie” is not limited to mainland France ; besides overseas territories and parts of Belgium, Switzerland and Canada, French is widely spoken in North West Africa, where France used to be the colonial power. Morocco, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mauritania, Togo among others still have French as their official language, and l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie comprises 80 member states from all over the world. When speaking of French literature, one should not forget the contribution of writers from overseas, and that many a book written in French may in fact have been penned by an African author.

Examples of Haitian and Congolese prizewinners

Examples of Haitian and Congolese prizewinners

French-speaking countries and overseas territories’ contribution to French literature is not recent: XIXth century writer Alexandre Dumas was the son of a mixed-race former slave from Saint-Domingue ; in 1921 Batouala, written by René Maran, from Martinique, was the first novel penned by a Black person to be awarded the prestigious French literary prize Goncourt ; and the XXth century poet Saint-John Perse was born and spent his childhood in Guadeloupe. One important movement in French-speaking literature is “la Négritude”, founded in the 1930s by Martinican poet Aimé Césaire and Senegalese poet and politician Léopold Sédar Senghor. Contemporary writer and Nobel-prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio is Franco-Mauritian, and Haitian author Dany Laferrière has recently become a member of the Académie Française. Continue reading

French prizewinners 2014

The Library actively collects major French literary prizewinners. See previous lists of literary prizewinners: 2009-2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. We use them to guide our acquisitions policy for modern literature (we have previously discussed this policy in a historical context).

Here are the titles and the classmarks of a selection of French prizewinners from 2014:

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