Five Nominees Unveiled for the 2021 Albertine Prize
Nominated titles bring diverse and cutting-edge Francophone literature to the United States
New York, October 13, 2021 — The Albertine Prize, one of the rare literary ‘reader’s choice’ awards in the United States, today unveiled its 2021 nominees: Five works of fiction in French that have been translated into English and recently published in the U.S.
From October 13 to November 15, American readers can go online to vote for their favorite among the nominees. The author and translator of the winning book will share the $10,000 prize, presented by the French Embassy with support from Van Cleef & Arpels.
This year, the voting jury will be composed of Albertine members only, offering a personalized experience and a community of literary dialogue for Francophone readers nationwide. Membership includes a VIP invitation to the Nomination ceremony event (October 13, 2021) and to the Award ceremony in December, where the winning author will be in attendance. Members also receive a permanent discount on all Albertine books and the opportunity to participate in Albertine Book Club Sessions. To become a member, please visit albertine.com
This year’s five nominated books address the most pressing issues of our times with distinctive literary styles, written by a diverse roster of authors who display the breadth of the French and Francophone contemporary scene.
Louis-Philippe Dalembert, The Mediterranean Wall, Schaffner Press, Sabine Wespieser, tr. Marjolijn de Jager
Following the lives of three women in their flight from their respective homelands—Shoshana from Nigeria, the Eritrean soldier Semhar, and Dima, a well-to-do housewife from Syria—Dalembert compassionately depicts their struggle and the bond they form together in their attempt to cross the sea via an overcrowded, dilapidated fishing trawler. Based on true events that occurred in the summer of 2014 off the coast of Italy, The Mediterranean Wall provides a deeply wrenching testimony to this continuing global crisis.
Pauline Delabroy-Allard, They Say Sarah, Other Press, Minuit, tr. Adriana Hunter
A thirty-something teacher drifts through her life in Paris, raising a daughter on her own, lonely in spite of a new boyfriend. And then one night at a friend’s tepid New Year’s Eve party, Sarah enters the scene like a tornado—a talented young violinist, she is loud, vivacious, appealingly unkempt in a world where everyone seems preoccupied with being “just so.” Thus begins an intense relationship, tender and violent, that will upend both women’s lives.
Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tâm, Arcadia, Seven Stories Press, P.O.L, tr. Ruth Diver
At the tender age of six, Farah moves into a community in harmony with nature. Its spiritual leader preaches equality, non-violence, anti-speciesism, and uninhibited desire for all, regardless of gender, age, looks, or ability. At fifteen, Farah learns she is intersex, and begins to explore her own desires beyond the confines of gender. What, Farah asks, is a man or a woman? What does it mean to be part of a community? What is utopia when there are refugees seeking shelter who cannot enter?
Nicolas Mathieu, And Their Children After Them, Other Press, Actes Sud, tr. William Rodarmor
Agust 1992. One afternoon during a heatwave in a desolate valley somewhere in eastern France, with its dormant blast furnaces and its lake, fourteen-year-old Anthony and his cousin decide to steal a canoe to explore the famous nude beach across the water. The trip ultimately takes Anthony to his first love and a summer that will determine everything that happens afterward.
Emmanuel Dongala, The Bridgetower Sonata: Sonata Mulattica, Schaffner Press, Actes Sud, tr. Marjolijn de Jager
In this vividly imagined historical novel, Emmanuel Dongala focuses his laser-sharp wit on the life and times of George Bridgetower, a young violin prodigy, who, at the age of nine, took the courtly world of 18th century Europe by storm—and surprisingly so, given the youth's unusual origins: For George was of mixed-race parentage, known in the parlance of the day as a mulatto. The Bridgetower Sonata brings to light the issues of race, class, privilege, and, with gentle humor, reveals the rampant hypocrisy of the era that ironically mirrors our own.
Albertine members can vote for their favorite nominee on the Albertine website from October 13 to November 15, 2021. They will have the opportunity to meet the author and translator of the prize-winning book during the Awards ceremony presented by the Prize's Honorary Chair, acclaimed American author Rachel Kushner, and the Editor-at-Large of The New York Review of Books and director of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation, Daniel Mendelsohn.
All nominated titles are available for purchase in French and English at the Albertine Bookstore—972 Fifth Avenue—or at Albertine’s online store. Albertine and the French Embassy particularly thank The New York Review of Books for their support in this year’s edition of the Albertine Prize.
Albertine is a bookshop that brings to life French-American intellectual exchange. A permanent venue for free events and debates, the space offers more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles from over 30 French-speaking countries around the world.
In partnership with
Founded at Paris' 22 Place Vendôme in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels came into being following Estelle Arpels' marriage to Alfred Van Cleef in 1895. Over the decades, the excellence and creativity of the High Jewelry Maison established its reputation across the world. With a blend of inventiveness and poetry, Van Cleef & Arpels perpetuates a highly distinctive style that has produced numerous signatures: the Mystery Set technique, the Minaudière, the transformable Zip necklace and the Alhambra motif. Its selection of Pierres de Caractère, exceptional gems that instill an emotion, and the savoir-faire of its Mains d’Or, the virtuoso craftsmen of the workshops, have given birth to enchanting jewelry and watchmaking collections. Whether inspired by nature, couture, dance or imaginary worlds, the Maison opens the gate to a timeless universe of beauty and harmony. Van Cleef & Arpels has established 140 boutiques across the globe, which are perfect embodiments of its elegant and enchanting style.
With a worldwide circulation of over 145,000, The New York Review of Books has established itself, in Esquire’s words, as “the premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language.” The New York Review began as an independent editorial voice during the New York publishing strike of 1963, when its founding editors, Robert Silvers and Barbara Epstein, and their friends, decided to create a new kind of magazine, in which the most interesting and qualified minds of our time would discuss current books and issues in depth. According to The New York Times, what has made the Review successful is its “stubborn refusal to treat books, or the theatre and movies, as categories of entertainment to be indulged in when the working day is done.”