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Gaudé, Laurent 1972-

Gaudé, Laurent 1972-

PERSONAL:

Born July 6, 1972, in Paris, France; married.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Paris, France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, MacAdam/Cage Publishing, 155 San-some St., Ste. 550, San Francisco, CA 94104-3615.

CAREER:

Writer and playwright.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Prix Goncourt des lycéens, 2002, for La mort du roi Tsongor; Prix Goncourt, 2004.

WRITINGS:


NOVELS


Cris, Actes sud (Arles, France), 2001.

La mort du roi Tsongor, Actes sud (Arles, France), 2002, translation published as The Death of King Tsongor, Toby Press (New Milford, CT), 2003.

Le soleil des Scorta, Actes sud (Arles, France), 2004, translation published as The Scortas' Sun, Hesperus Press (London, England), 2006.

Death of an Ancient King, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 2005.

The House of Scorta, translated by Stephen Sartarelli and Sophie Hawkes, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2006.

PLAYS

Pluie de cendres, Actes sud (Arles, France), 2001.

Combats de possédés (title means "Battle of Will"), translated by David Greig and Simon Taylor, Oberon Books (London, England), 2002.

Cendres sur les mains, Actes sud (Arles, France), 2002.

Onysos the Wild, produced in London, England, 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Laurent Gaudé is a French author and playwright who won France's most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt, in 2004. In 2002 Gaudé published La mort du roi Tsongor, which was translated into English as The Death of King Tsongor. In the story, a mythical ruler named King Tsongor builds a powerful African empire called Massaba. The king has made preparations for his daughter to marry Prince Kouame, ruler of the salt lands. However, the king dies and another prince named Sango Kerim, who is the leader of nomadic armies, comes to conquer Massaba and marry the former king's daughter. Kouame and Sango battle for both the daughter's hand in marriage and the kingdom. Many critics applauded the novel. Janet Evans, reviewing The Death of King Tsongor for the Library Journal, observed that the novel reads like "an ancient epic," and further commented that the book is "a powerful story with immense sweep." Additionally, another Library Journal critic called Gaudé "a writer of great evocative power and profound psychological insight." The Death of King Tsongor was awarded the 2002 Prix Goncourt des lycéens, which is judged by high-school students.

In Gaudé's 2006 book, The House of Scorta, the author writes of a southern Italian family's struggles through five generations. The novel begins in 1870, when bandit Luciano Mascalzone returns to the small village of Montepuccio. He immediately seeks out an old lover named Filomena and has sex with her, only to discover later that the woman he slept with was not Filomena, but her younger sister, Immacolata. Luciano is stoned for his crimes, and thus the Scorta family curse begins. Rocco Scorta Mascalzone is the bastard son of the union between Immacolata and Luciano. Rocco marries a woman only known as "the mute," and they have three children, Domenico, Giuseppe, and Carmela. The three siblings attempt to immigrate to America, but are turned away because Carmela is sick. They return home and open a cigar shop, which allows them to eventually escape their poverty. Later, Carmela's grandaughter, Anna, is the first Scorta to leave Italy and make a new life for herself in America.

The story elicited mixed responses from reviewers. Mary Ellen Quinn, writing in Booklist, called the novel a "stark family saga," although a critic for Kirkus Reviews felt that the book contains "vague platitudinous descriptions of Italy that read like a travelogue" and "characters who seem embarrassingly stereotypical." A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt differently, pointing out that the novel documents "the way families change over time and how tradition is preserved," and noting that Gaudé "proves himself capable of painting a rich canvas." Jana L. Perskie also lauded the novel in a review posted on the Mostly Fiction Web site. Perskie commented that "the author's extraordinary descriptions, luminous paintings with words, add so much texture and richness to the narrative," and went on to conclude that the Scorta family's "hardships make a most fascinating and original story."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


PERIODICALS


Booklist, January 1, 2006, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The House of Scorta, p. 54.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of The House of Scorta, p. 1246.

Library Journal, July, 2003, review of The Death of King Tsongor, p. SS10; December, 2003, Janet Evans, review of The Death of King Tsongor, p. 165.

Publishers Weekly, November 28, 2005, review of The House of Scorta, p. 24.

ONLINE


Guardian Online,http://guardian.co.uk/ (November 10, 2004), Gwladys Fouché, "Goncourt Goes to Laurent Gaudé."

Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (March 22, 2006), Jana L. Perksie, review of The House of Scorta.

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