PARIS: Jonathan Littell, a New York-born writer, became the first American to win France's most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt.
The 903-page book, "Les Bienveillantes," a French-language novel, describes the story of a murderous and degenerate Waffen SS officer.
Written in the first person, it is the memoir of Maximilien Aue, a well educated former Waffen SS officer who managed to escape punishment and reinvent himself as a lace manufacturer in northern France. It is not a confession, however, since Aue sees no reason to apologize. Rather, it is a matter-of-fact description of his own personal decadence - homosexual sado- masochism and incest with his sister - and of his murderous role in the Nazi nightmare.
"Les Bienveillantes," or "The Kindly Ones," has been acquired by HarpersCollins for publication in the United States and has already been sold for translation into German, Spanish, Hebrew and several other languages. Last month, the book, which has so far sold about 250,000 copies in France, also won the Académie Française's annual fiction prize.
You can order it on www.amazon.fr or www.fnac.com