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On 22 March 2024, 30 students from 15 universities gathered together in London for the fifth iteration of the Choix Goncourt: the prestigious inter-university event at which student delegates get the chance to elect a winner from the four works shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt, France's preeminent literary prize.

This was the culmination of months of deliberations in separate reading groups across the 15 universities. This year, a very healthy number of Oxford students participated in our reading group, as we worked our way through the four shortlisted novels:

  • Triste Tigre by Neige Sinno (Editions P.O.L.)
  • Humus by Gaspard Koenig (L'Observatoire)
  • Veiller sur elle by Jean-Baptiste Andrea (L'Iconoclaste)
  • Sarah, Suzanne et l'écrivain by Eric Reinhardt (Gallimard)

At our final meeting in early March, we decided that Andrea's Veiller sur elle would get the Oxford vote (indeed, Veiller sur elle had already won the Prix Goncourt by this stage). Victoria McKinley-Smith and Reuben Micu were then chosen to represent Oxford at the Choix Goncourt in London. They were joined in London by Julia Moore (All Souls), Dr Jonathan Patterson (St Edmund Hall), and Professor Catriona Seth (Maréchal Foch Professor of French) at the concluding ceremony.

On the evening of 22 March, at the Résidence de France, the ceremony took place at the invitation of Ambassador Hélène Duchêne. Professor Seth chaired the event, featuring live readings of all four novels. The president of the student judging panel, Michèle Roberts, announced that Neige Sinno was the winner of the 2024 Choix Goncourt UK for Triste Tigre: a harrowing auto-fictional account of the author's sexual abuse as a child, mediated through various literary intertexts, including works by Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Christine Angot, and Virginie Despentes.

Student judge Victoria McKinley-Smith commented: 'Judging the 2024 Choix Goncourt UK was an incredible opportunity which allowed me to engage in invigorating discussions about contemporary literature.’ 

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Students at Goncourt event
Left to right: Julia Moore, Reuben Micu, and Victoria McKinley-Smith