Fascinated by the tortured and uncomfortable characters, as demonstrated in his two masterpieces The adversary and Limònov, but also a fierce portraitist of himself, the French writer Emmanuel Carrère is together with Michel Houellebecq one of the most celebrated of French letters. In addition to its record of awards, the FIL Award from the Guadalajara Fair, Mexico, for example, is now joined by the 2021 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature granted this Wednesday.
An award that perhaps, and he admits it via zoom from his home in Paris, can compensate him for the disappointment of not having received the long-awaited Goncourt for his latest novel, ‘Yoga’ (Anagram). He says it out of courtesy, of course, but it is not bad at all to be in the same league as authors such as John Banville, Susan Sontag, Paul Auster, Claudio Magris, Doris Lessing, Arthur Miller, Carmen Martín Gaite, Augusto Monterroso, Günter Grass, Philip Roth, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa and Juan Rulfo, who received it.
Carrère, writer of elaborate non-fiction works in which he often includes himself in a self-fiction game, has always been fascinated by extreme personalities including his own. In ‘Yoga he recounts how he fell into a process of depression that required electroconvulsive treatment.
“I don’t like the term autofiction too much to define what I do,” he explains, “because in reality I have only used that technique in my last novel. If I appear in most of my novels as a narrator it is because I feel a great need to link what I have to myself. But this is something that all authors do in a more veiled or obvious way ”.
However, he reveals that his next book, ambitious and large, will not have its characteristic autobiographical component, although – he adds – that “sometimes when you expel someone through the door, he appears through the window”, alluding to the fact that he may not disappoint his readers.
Better figures than landscapes
Beyond the plots, what most interests the French are the characters, something that he admits and illustrates with his desire to pay much more attention to portraits than to landscapes when visiting a museum. “I think that I am first and foremost a portraitist.” For the author, we all feel inside a social and cultural box that contains us, molds us and holds us, but what I try as a writer is to look over that box ”.
Despite not being a supporter of Macron, he has been very uncomfortable by the slap received this Tuesday by the French president. “The only thing I hope from our policy is that the National Front does not come to power and that it is not resolved by slaps.” In this sense, he recalls one of the last phrases of Aldous Huxley, an intellectual who spent his life studying religions and scholars of all traditions. “In the end, his recommendation was that you have to try to be a little kinder.”
According to the certificate of the Carrère prize, he has built a very personal work in which “the borders between reality and fiction are erased”. Furthermore, it is emphasized that his books “contribute to the unmasking of the human condition and relentlessly dissect reality.” The author, always according to the minutes, draws an incisive portrait of today’s society “and has exercised a notable influence on the literature of our time .”
The jury for this literary distinction has been made up of writers, critics, booksellers and cultural journalists such as Santiago Muñoz Machado (president), Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente (secretary), Xuan Bello, Blanca Berasátegui, Anna Caballé, Gonzalo Celorio, José Luis García Delgado, Jordi Gracia, Lola Larumbe, Antonio Lucas, Carmen Millán Grajales, Rosa Navarro, Leonardo Padura, Laura Revuelta, Carmen Riera, Iker Seisdedos, Jaime Siles, Diana Sorensen and Sergio Vila-Sanjuán