Thursday, 19 February 2009

Giving Prizes and Gracious Acceptance: Lloyd Jones and Mr. Pip

Les Durochères, a group of neighborhood women who’ve been getting together from more than 25 years to talk about books, will meet tonight, and I’ve got some good news for them. Each December we meet over supper to discuss the year’s reading and vote for our favourite. Lloyd Jones’s Mr. Pip won in 2008, and I spent some time in January tracking him down so we could send him a letter notifying him of the Prix des Durochère. Finally I found an editor at his New Zealand publisher who forwarded our letter by e-mail attachment.

I’d written : “While it carries none of the cachet of the many prizes you have been awarded—and certainly none of the money--I hope it will amuse you to know that Mr. Pip was the best book” we’d read last year. "It joins such other laureates of the prize as A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Soie by Alessandro Barrico and L’Aveuglement by José Saramago.”

Not 48 hours later I got this e-mail in return: “The best awards are always the ones least expected. How very flattering to receive the Prix des Durochères. I see by the previous winners I am in very good company. All the very best. A bientôt, LLoyd."

That makes five Prix winners who've responded to our "award." Rohinton Mistry, Yann Martel, and Robertson Davies (the first writer we wrote to) all sent us short notes, while one of our number, Élisabeth Humblot-Lapointe was able to present the award in person to José Saramago at a book fair. Such graciousness!

P.S. For tonight, we’ve given ourselves a choice of anything by Nobel prize winner Le Clezio. Should be an interesting discussion.

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