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Emmanuel Carrère

Princess of Asturias Award for Literature 2021

Emmanuel Carrère was born in Paris on 9th December 1957. A French writer, screenwriter and filmmaker, he graduated from the Paris Institute of Political Studies. He lived in Surabaya (Indonesia) for two years while teaching French. He made his debut as a film critic in the magazines Positif and Télérama. In 1982, he published his first work, Werner Herzog, a monograph on this director, while the following year saw the release of his first novel, L’amie du jaguar. He subsequently published Bravoure (1984) (Gothic Romance, 1990) and in 1986, La moustache (The Moustache, 1988), which he adapted for the cinema in 2005. In the opinion of John Updike, the latter novel “knocks you out in less than 150 pages”. He has been a member of the international jury at the Cannes Film Festival (2010), including the Cannes short films section (2012) and the Cinéfondation jury.

Starting with his work L’Adversaire (2000) (The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception, 2002) about the murderer Jean-Claude Romand, which garnered great critical and public success, Carrère gave up writing fiction and began to write texts in which he narrates his own experiences or the real lives of other people and historical figures. He insists that the aforementioned work and those following it are not works of fiction: “The truth is that I don’t know how many times it is necessary to say that things are true, that they happened as they are related. I say so several times in the book, however, it seems that there are people who are not willing to understand that something that is true can be written, that there are many people who make a direct connection between ‘literature’ and ‘novel’, who consider that literature can only be fiction.” This type of text, in which facts and characters from real life intersect with reflections on the act of writing and the author’s own experience, is also that which appears in his subsequent books, Un roman russe (2007) (My Life as a Russian Novel, 2011) and D’autres vies que la mienne (2009) (Lives Other Than My Own, 2011), in which the stories marked by the grief, illness, and misfortune of various characters intersect, and in which he talks about the 2004 tsunami, which he experienced first-hand.

A passionate science fiction reader, he has also published Limónov (2011) (Limonov: The Outrageous Adventures, 2015); Le Royaume (2014) (The Kingdom: A Novel, (2017), on the birth of Christianity; Je suis vivant et vous êtes morts: Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982 (1993) (I am Alive and You are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick, 2005), a biography of this American writer in the form of a novel; Il est avantageux d’avoir où aller (2016) (97,196 Words: Essays, partial translation into English, 2019), a collection of journalistic writings and essays; and Yoga (2020), described as “a lesson in darkness”, “masterly”, “luminous” or “of captivating sincerity”, among other opinions corroborating its success. Carrère also has an outstanding career in film and television, as a scriptwriter, adapter of novels, producer and theatrical designer. He has also made documentaries and news reports and some of his novels have been adapted for the screen, such as the aforementioned La moustache and La Classe de neige, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes (1998).

Carrère received the Prix Kléber Haedens (France, 1988), the Grand Prix de la Science-Fiction (France, 1987), the Prix Femina (France, 1995) and the Prix Renaudot (France, 2011) for Limónov. In 2017, the Guadalajara International Book Fair (Mexico) granted him the FIL Award for Literature in Romance Languages and he received the Villa Kujoyama Award in Kyoto (Japan).

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