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Bard Professor Daniel Mendelsohn Wins 2007 Prix Médicis Étranger

France's Top Literary Award For Foreign Literature has been awarded to Mendelsohn for his book, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

Mark Primoff
Daniel Mendelsohn, Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities at Bard College.  Image Credit: Matt Mendelsohn
Daniel Mendelsohn, Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities at Bard College, has won the 2007 Prix Médicis Étranger, France’s most important prize for foreign literature, for his book The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million. The Lost (Les disparus) was published September 2007 in France, where it became a bestseller and was hailed as “the book of the year” and “the masterpiece of the season.” The book was also nominated for France’s Prix Femina. Mendelsohn accepted the award at the world-famous Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. This is the second consecutive year this prestigious French literary prize has been awarded to a Bard professor. Last year, Norman Manea, Francis Flournoy Professor in European Studies and Culture and writer in residence at Bard College, won for his memoir The Hooligan’s Return. Published in the United States by HarperCollins (2006), The Lost is the story of a writer’s search for six relatives who disappeared in the Holocaust. Spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939, Mendelsohn sets out to find the truth behind his family’s tragic past and explores the nature of time, memory, family, and history. The Lost is an ambitious and meditative detective story that spans a dozen countries on four continents, eventually leading him back to the small Ukrainian town where his family’s story began. An international bestseller, The Lost has received critical acclaim in the New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Times, People, O, The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. Front-cover reviews called the book “a work of major significance and pummeling impact” (Chicago Tribune); “a powerful work of investigative empathy” that “draws us more deeply into the experience of [the Holocaust] than we might have thought possible” and “a new way of telling a story we thought we knew” (New York Times Book Review); and “a vast, highly colored tapestry . . . a remarkable personal narrative, rigorous in its search for truth, at once tender and exacting” (Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Washington Post Book World). Named among the notable or best books of 2006 by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, NPR’s “Fresh Air,” the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and, among others, The Lost was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award, National Jewish Book Award, Salon Book Award, and American Library Association Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Literature. In 2007, The Lost was published in Australia and the U.K., as well as in translation in The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Israel. It will appear in Brazil, Poland, and Greece in 2008. Daniel Mendelsohn, an award-winning author and critic, received his B.A. summa cum laude in classics from the University of Virginia and his M.A. and Ph.D. in classics from Princeton University. He contributes reviews, articles, and features on cultural issues to the New Yorker, New York Times, New York Review of Books, The Nation, Esquire, Paris Review, and other major publications. He is the author of The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity (Knopf, 1999; Vintage, 2000; selected as New York Times Notable Book of the Year and Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year); Gender and the City in Euripides’ Political Plays (Oxford University Press, 2005); and The Lost: A Search for Six in Six Million (HarperCollins, 2006). He is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and two Mellon Foundation awards. He is currently the Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities at Bard College and divides his time among homes in New York City, New Jersey, and the Hudson Valley. Founded in 1958 by Gala Barbisan and Jean-Pierre Giraudoux, the Prix Médicis is a renowned French literary prize awarded each year in early November to an author “whose fame does not yet match their talent.” In 1970, the Prix Médicis Étranger, an award for foreign literature, was introduced. Among the previous foreign laureates are Paul Auster, Jonathan Coe, Julio Cortázar, Umberto Eco, Milan Kundera, Norman Manea (Francis Flournoy Professor in European Studies and Culture and writer in residence at Bard College) Orhan Pamuk (visiting writer in residence at Bard College, 2004, 2007), Philip Roth, and Antonio Tabucchi (visiting writer in residence at Bard College, 2007).

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This event was last updated on 02-06-2008