€10,000 Michel Deon Prize to be awarded for work of non-fiction

French writer published more than 50 works of fiction and non-fiction in his lifetime

A prize of €10,000 will be awarded in honour of the late Michel Déon, a French writer who lived in Galway for 40 years. File photograph: Lara Marlowe

A prize of €10,000 will be awarded in honour of the late Michel Déon, a French writer who lived in Galway for 40 years. File photograph: Lara Marlowe

 

The Royal Irish Academy will choose a winner of the inaugural €10,000 Michel Déon Prize before the end of this year.

The prize will be awarded for the best work of non-fiction by a writer living in Ireland. It is named after the French writer Michel Déon, who lived for more than 40 years in the west of Ireland.

Déon died in Galway at the age of 97 on December 28th, 2016. He published more than 50 works of fiction and non-fiction.

“Horseman Pass By,” his tribute to Ireland, was published by Lilliput Press in Dublin shortly before his death. Two of Déon’s novels from the early 1970s, “The Wild Ponies” and “A Purple Taxi”, won major French literary awards. Both were set partly or entirely in Ireland. The film adaptation of “Un Taxi Mauve” was shot in Connemara and starred Charlotte Rampling, Peter Ustinov and Fred Astaire.

Déon was elected to the Académie française in 1978. The Académie will announce its own Prix Michel Déon on December 6th. The €10,000 prize will be funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the prize was “a very appropriate way to remember the great French writer Michel Déon, who spent so many years in Ireland.” Titles can be nominated on ria.ie/michel-deon-prize. The closing date is September 23rd, 2018.

The prize arose from a conversation between Niall Burgess,ecretary general at the Department of Foreign Affairs, then French ambassador to Dublin Jean-Pierre Thebault, and Pierre Joannon, Ireland’s consul general on the Côte d’Azur, after Déon’s funeral Mass in Tynagh, Co. Galway, in January 2017.

Déon worked with the far-right ideologue Charles Maurras during the second World War. Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris, delayed the burial of Déon’s ashes because of his right-wing background.