September 18, 2019

French Author Accused of Anti-Semitism Is Snubbed for a Top Literary Prize

French Author Accused of Anti-Semitism Is Snubbed for a Top Literary Prize

“These texts and drawings are anti-Semitic, but I am not an anti-Semite,” he said, calling them a youthful mistake that he was now ashamed of, and saying that his “whole journey as a man” since then had been an effort to “pull” himself “out of this trap.”

Mr. Moix is no stranger to controversies. From 2015 to 2018, he was a biting pundit on a popular late-night talk-show. And early this year he came under fire for telling a women’s lifestyle magazine that he was “incapable” of loving women over 50 because they were “too old.” (Mr. Moix is 51.)

“Orléans” quickly attracted controversy of its own.

Days before publication, José Moix, Mr. Moix’s father, told a local newspaper that the novel was “pure fantasy” and that, while he had been a strict father who occasionally disciplined his children, he had never physically abused Mr. Moix. In the book, the author describes being whipped with electrical cords, abandoned in a forest in the middle of the night, and smeared with his own feces.

Days after the publication, Alexandre Moix, Mr. Moix’s brother, wrote in an open letter for the newspaper Le Parisien that it was actually Mr. Moix who had been abusive, and that the future writer had, for instance, tried to throw his brother out of a window and drown him in a toilet bowl. Mr. Moix, his brother wrote, was a cruel and violent narcissist.

“In his life, my brother has only two obsessions: winning the Goncourt Prize and annihilating me,” Mr. Moix’s brother wrote, adding that Mr. Moix was “sacrificing reality on the altar of his literary ambitions.” (In a television appearance, Mr. Moix said that “Orléans” was a “novel, not an account.”)

In 1996, Mr. Moix won the Goncourt prize for a first novel, which is separate from the Goncourt itself, and in 2013 he won the Renaudot, another French literary prize, for his novel “Naissance,” which also explored childhood trauma.

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