Nobel laureate quits French books prize over pedophile writer

Literature Desk
3 April 2020, Fri
Published: 06:09

Nobel laureate quits French books prize over pedophile writer

The Nobel prize-winning writer J.M.G. Le Clezio has said Thursday that he will resign from the jury of one of France's top literary prizes because it honored pedophile Gabriel Matzneff.

Le Clezio said he was "forcefully opposed" to Matzneff winning the Renaudot prize in 2013 for a volume of his diaries, but "they would not listen to me".

The novelist, who won the Nobel in 2008, is the second judge to quit the jury because of Matzneff, who never made a secret of his predilection for adolescent boys and girls.

Le Clezio described the book, "Seraphin, c'est la fin!" ("Seraphin, It's Over!"), as an "apology for rape" and told the French daily Le Figaro that he "read it with a large amount of disgust".

Journalist Jerome Garcin quit the jury in protest last month, and like him Le Clezio said he wanted to see more women judge the prize.

At the moment, only one woman sits on the 10-person jury.

The French literary world has been shaken by the scandal around Matzneff. 

The 83-year-old occupied a privileged niche in the books world until January when attitudes toward the writer changed radically after publisher Vanessa Springora revealed her tortured under-age relationship with him in her bestseller, "Consent".

Matzneff - who fled to Italy after the scandal broke -- is to stand trial next year on a charge of justifying pedophilia, and prosecutors launched a rape investigation into him the day after Springora's book was published. - J