Four top French book awards go to non-French authors
Why do I care so much about France? I don’t know, maybe just because it’s the traditional first stop for a semi-cosmopolitan anglophone and I am less culturally far-reaching than I would like to think. Or maybe it’s simply that I want America to be more like France.
Anyway, I think this is a very interesting development in light of Americans’ and others’ traditional anti-French sentiments. Many people have negative feelings toward the French because of that sense of cultural superiority they can sometimes exhibit, and their historical sense of being the carrier of Western civilization and the world’s diplomats. Like any colonial power adjusting to a somewhat more democratic world, they have seemed resistant to giving up the cultural implications of their former status as the owners of the world’s lingua franca (now lingua anglica to use my fake latin).
It seems to me these literary awards to non-French writers (in the French language) are a sign that France is doing what any former great empire should end up doing after a while: opening itself to the world and becoming multicultural not out of a sense of responsibility or guilt but a sense of curiosity, interest, and a recognition of the need for wider perspectives.
In any event, it is definitely newsworthy and the literary world, inside and outside of France, is talking about it.