Nonino International Prize 2017

Pierre Michon



Considered a cult writer, his writing is like the marble that envelopes “Michelangelo’s Prisoners”, for the world a mysterious draft, to true readers a masterpiece. In Small Lives (published by Adelphi) the tales turn into frescoes where apparently tiny existences become extraordinary, paradigms of our being, ties to an ancestral world that is the deep soul of our culture.


Pierre Michon is a French writer born on 28th March 1945, at Cards, municipality of Châtelus-le-Marcheix, Creuse. After his father left the family he was brought up by his mother, a governess, and spent his childhood in Mourioux and then in Guéret, Creuse. He studied literature in Clermont-Ferrand with a thesis on Antonin Artaud.
Afterwards he traveled all over France as he had joined a theatrical company without having a stable profession. At the age of thirty-seven he entered the literary life with the publication of Small lives, considered a masterpiece of French contemporary literature. Years later he declared that the book saved his life. He has a daughter, Louise, born in 1998. Michon’s writing is first of all a hard work on the language and in this sense it is possible to speak about Michon’s works as poetry in prose: each word is chosen with perfection. His writing is oral writing; each sentence has a musicality that has led some authors to find in Michon’s works an influence of the poetry sung by medieval troubadours.
His relationship with painting is intense.
His works have been translated into German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, Polish, Serbian, Czech, Norwegian and English. He is going to publish, always for Adelphi publishing company, the work Le Onze, Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie française.

Vies minuscules, Gallimard, 1984. Translated by Deshays and Gladding, Small Lives, Archipelago Books, 2008;
Vie de Joseph Roulin, Verdier, 1988;
L’empereur d’Occident, with engravings by Pierre Alechinsky, Fata Morgana, 1989;
Verdier Poche, 2007;
Maîtres et serviteurs, Verdier, 1990. Translated by Wyatt Mason, Masters and servants, Mercury House, 1997;
Rimbaud le fils, Gallimard, 1991. Translated by Deshays and Gladding, Rimbaud the son, Yale University Press, 2013;
La Grande Beune, Verdier, 1995;
Folio-Gallimard, 2006. Translated by Wyatt Mason, The Origin of the World, Mercury House, 2002;
Le roi du bois, Verdier, 1996;
Mythologies d’hiver, Verdier, 1997. Translated by Jefferson, Winter Mythologies and Abbots, Yale University Press 2014;
Trois auteurs: Balzac, Cingria, Faulkner, Verdier, 1997;
Abbés, Verdier, 2002;
Corps du roi, Verdier, 2002, Décembre prize;
Le roi vient quand il veut: propos sur la littérature, Albin Michel, 2007;
Les onze, Verdier, 2009, Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française. Translated by Deshays and Gladding, The Eleven, Archipelago Books, 2013.

Awards and Honors
Prix France Culture 1984 for Small Lives
Prix de la Ville de Paris for the complete works, 1996
Prix Louis-Guilloux 1997 for La Grande Beune
Prix Décembre 2002 for Abbés et Corps du roi
Grand prix de littérature de la SGDL for the complete works, 2004
Grand prix du Roman de l’Académie française 2009 for Les Onze
Petrarca Prize for the complete works, 2010
Grand prix Ardua (Universités d’Aquitaine) for the complete works, 2013
Prix Marguerite Yourcenar for the complete works, 2015

Theater adaptions
Intégrale des Vies minuscules, mise en scène par Jean-Christophe Cochard, Théâtre de l’Argile
Vie de Joseph Roulin, mise en scène de Guillaume Delaveau (Le Grand T, Nantes, 2009)