by Jane Rosenstein – Edited by Harold Dill
The Prix Wepler – Fondation de la Poste celebrated its nineteenth anniversary on November 10 2014. Brasserie Wepler, a restaurant here in Paris famous for its seafood and oysters, located at 14 rue de la Place Clichy, near Montmartre has been hosting the Prix since its beginning. The restaurant, started out as a lemonade stand, over a hundred years ago. Famous authors such as Céline, Max Jacob and Henry Miller met here for dining and conversation.
Each year authors whose works are not well-known and not written for commercial purposes compete for the prize. Brasserie Wepler closes its doors to customers to host an elegant soirée. Michele Bessière loses the revenue for the evening and also provides food and beverages to the guests.
Le Prix Wepler-Fondation la Poste was the idea of Marie-Rose Guarniéri owner of the bookshop La Librarie des Abesses in Montmartre. In 1998 she organized the prize and event with the Fondation la Poste, an organization of the post office and Wepler Restaurant whose owner is Michèle Bressière.When the organizers created the prize their objective was to promote authors whose innovative works were not written mainly for profit. The jury changes each year to get new opinions.
We were cordially welcomed by Damien Lavel, presse attaché, when we arrived at Wepler. This year Francesca Grunupp and our photographer Mark Suits went with me.
I was pleased to meet Daniel Vaillant retired foreign minister of the interior and Helen Conway Mouret a junior minister. I also met Patrick Durant who was there to see who won the prizes. There were approximately 600 people in attendance this year.
We were entertained by Can Can Dancers from the company of Nadège Maruta.
The selection of books for the 2014 prize were as follows:
- Thierry BEINSTINGEL — Faux Négres (Fayard)
- Marie-Claire BLAIS — Aux Jardins des Acacias (Seuil)
- Sophie DIVRY — La Condition Pavillonnaire (Noir sur Blanc/Notabilia)
- Elisabeth FILHOL — Bois II (P.O.L)
- Jean-HUBERT GAILLIOT — Le Soleil (Editions de l’Olivier)
- Hedwige JEANMART — Blanès (Gallimard)
- Luba JURGENSON — Au lieu du Péril (Verdier)
- Mathias MENEGOZ — Karpathia (P.O.L)
- Fiston MWANZA MUJILA — Tram 83 (Métaillé)
- Sylvain PRUDHOMME — Les Grands (L‘Arbalète/Gallimard)
- Eric VUILLARD — Tristesse de la Terre – Une histoire de Buffalo Bill Cody (Actes Sud)
- Cécile WAJSBROT — Totale Eclipse (Editions Christian Bourgois)
The first prize of 10,000 Euros was presented to Jean-HUBERT GAILLIOT for Le Soleil (Editions de l’Olivier)
Jean-Hubert told the crowd that he wrote his first book in1997 and then four more books but none were very successful. It took him 8 years to write this book. The publisher kept calling him to see his progress. The middle of the book features 80 rose colored pages. The author is surprised that the publisher kept these colored pages despite the cost and making the book seem a little bizarre. Gailliot told the audience that this is the first time he was dominated and entirely immersed by his writing and that he would be incapable of reproducing it. Jean-Hubert said that there is nothing better than a literary prize to expand the popularity of a book and encourage booksellers to extend availability.
La Mention Spéciale du Jury (Special Mention) of 3000 Euros went to Sophie DIVRY for her La Condition Pavillonnaire (Editions Noir sur Blanc/Notabilia).
The book is a profoundly modern work on the conditions of women. It is her third book.
It is like reading about a contemporary version of the classic Madame Bovary. Sophie Divry said she was happy to receive the prize.
After the prizes, we enjoyed fine food and drinks from Brasserie Wepler. There were many hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, champagne, wine and soft drinks. It gave us the opportunity to meet the attendees. Our friend Martine Lequantrec from Association Montmartre en Europe introduced us to several prominent people.
Afterwards we danced to music played by a good D.J. The crowd loved her selection of music and there was plenty of room on the dance floor.
Michele Bassière , Marie-Rose Guarniéri, Fondation de la Poste and Damien Lavel did a superb job organizing a very informative and enjoyable soirée for Le Prix Wepler-Fondation la Poste 2014.