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Literary Awards 2020 – The jurors of Goncourt stretch in yoga posture

The trophy hunt is on and in the first rounds, Emmanuel Carrère stands out. But from experience, the brilliant diarist has something to be wary of.

Emmanuel Carrère had seen

Emmanuel Carrère had seen “The Kingdom” removed from Goncourt, considered too far from fiction according to the then president of the Academy, Bernard Pivot. “Yoga” could remedy this shortcoming.


The venerable jurors of the Académie Goncourt did not have to suffer only the pangs of confinement, forced to reshape a formation that seemed immutable. Thus Pascal Bruckner has taken up the torch abandoned for overwork by Virginie Despentes. The retirement of Bernard Pivot, energetic price reformer and modern pillar of the institution, saw Didier Decoin, 75, take the helm. No revolution was foreseen and yet… the announcement of the first candidates for the prize leaves one wondering.

First sign, the former secretary general seems to have succeeded in convincing his acolytes that gender issues, at least literary, were anachronism in 2020. This is how “Yoga”, the latest text by Emmanuel Carrère, finds himself at the top of the list of those selected for the prestigious award.

For the record, in 2014, the most hybrid writer of his generation was dismissed from Goncourt, while “The Kingdom” posed as a favorite. At the time, Bernard Pivot explained this refusal noting that despite “an honest and instructive work of a thousand things”, “a lack of taste” Emmanuel Carrère seemed crippling. In this case, “five or six pornographic pages whose justification is null”.

“As much about me me me, so much satisfaction to be what he is and to write what he writes is heartbreaking”

Bernard Pivot, on “The Kingdom” by Emmanuel Carrère

Worse still, he said, the author displayed a flagrant lack of modesty in speaking of his misfortunes. This fall, the columnist for Sunday newspaper could bring out his criticism of the time to castigate “Yoga”, when he judged: “As much about me me me, so much satisfaction to be what he is and to write what he writes is heartbreaking”. But now, Pivot is retired and the book selected, favorite even among prognosticators.

The surprise enchants, especially since in 2018, the jurors of Goncourt had rejected for the same suspicions of “navel gazing”, the fabulous “Lambeau” of journalist Philippe Lançon, on the pretext that “it was not about a novel”. Plunged into the throes of a depression that overwhelmed Emmanuel Carrère until he saw him interned at Sainte-Anne hospital in Paris, “Yoga” does not disguise its confessional character. At most, the writer warns that he has set about writing “in the tone of familiar conversation, a little book not pretentious, a little book smiling and subtle …”

Let us admit that his manual does not smile, contortions in a spiritual quest and stretches in the pain of the news with an assumed complacency. However, “Yoga” makes one want to take the lotus position as his master, to reduce “the empire of his bulky and despotic ego”. In Saint-Germain-des-Prés, there is no lack of tyrannical egos!



After six years of absence, Emmanuel Carrère returns with “Yoga”.

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