PARIS, Nov 18 — A jury including the literary provocateur Michel Houellebecq this week handed out a prize dubbed the “Goncourt for pets” to a novel about a hunt gone wrong.
The Hunting Party by 42-year-old Agnes Desarthe tells of a young man who is injured during a hunt, and while he awaits rescue falls into “conversation” with a wild rabbit about the meaning of life — both animal and human.
“The idea of the novel came from meeting hunters who showed me a love of nature and animals, which I hadn’t been expecting at all,” the author told AFP.
“How can people kill what they love? That is something I cannot understand. Maybe that is what crimes of passion are about. So perhaps we should see hunting as a kind of crime of passion?
“That was the starting point for my book.”
The offbeat animal-themed prize, awarded by the French animal protection group 30 Millions d’Amis, traditionally wraps up France’s book awards season, and is bestowed in the Paris restaurant that hosts the real Goncourt, France’s top literary award, each year.
The award carries €1,000 (RM3,870) in prize money, which the winner donates to the animal charity of his choice.
Houellebecq, who won the Goncourt in 2010 for his work The Map and the Territory, was asked to sit on the jury because of his well-documented passion for animals — which he has called a “crazy love”.
For years the controversial writer was spotted with his pet terrier at his side, up until its death last year. — AFP/Relaxnews