French Jewish Author Wins Prestigious Tunisia Literary Prize

The jury of the 'Goncourt List: The Choice of Tunisia' award voted to give prize to Tobie Nathan for 'This Country that Resembles You,' about the life and expulsion of Egyptian Jews.

Tobie Nathan.
Tobie Nathan.Credit: G. Garitan / Wikimedia Commons

A French Jewish author won a prestigious literary prize in Tunisia for a book he wrote about the life and expulsion of Egyptian Jews.

The jury of the “Goncourt List: The Choice of Tunisia” award on Wednesday voted to give its first-ever prize to Tobie Nathan for his book “This Country that Resembles You,” which was published in French earlier this year.

The Tunisian award was established earlier this year as the local version of France’s Goncourt Prize, awarded annually since 1903 by the Académie Goncourt literary society in Paris to the author of “the best and most imaginative prose work of the year.” Prominent members of the French society visited Tunisia in October to assist the Tunisian affiliate in selecting candidates for the prize.

Nathan was announced as the affiliate’s first-ever laureate at an event Wednesday at the French Institute of Tunisia. The four final candidates were selected according to the votes of 176 literature professionals and students from 12 institutions, the news site reported Thursday.

Nathan was born in Cairo in 1948 to Italian Jewish parents who had to flee in 1957 as part of the regime’s expulsion of Jews.

His latest book will appear in Arabic next year, and he will be invited to be the guest of honor from France at Tunisia’s next international book fair, FILT, in March.

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