Until a few months ago, his name didn't mean anything to anyone. But since the publication of his novel Triste Tigre, (P.O.L.), Neige Sinno has established itself as the phenomenon of this literary season. Firstly by its public success. As of November 2, according to L'Obs, the book was in five reprints and had sold nearly 50,000 copies. Then, Neige Sinno asserted itself through its critical success. Already the winner of several awards (Le Monde, Les Inrockuptibles...), she appears in the major autumn prizes, such as the Goncourt and the Médicis. She has now won the Femina Prize.
Neige Sinno was elected in the first round, with nine votes out of twelve, from the exclusively female jury. “The subject that my book deals with is not a subject for women, nor for men, nor for any other,” she explained at the Carnavalet museum, where the prize was awarded, in Paris. “It reminds me of my thesis defense where there were also only women among the professors. (...) It’s a source of pride, moreover, to be encouraged.”
But the game was not over. Because Neige Sinno had very serious competitors facing her, starting with Jean-Baptiste Andrea. The writer and screenwriter was also announced as the favorite even though he had already won the prestigious Fnac novel prize with his fourth novel Veiller sur elle (L'Iconoclaste). Also included in the latest list of the Femina Prize: Pierric Bailly, Guy Boley, winner of the Deux Magots Prize and Agnès Mathieu-Daudé.
What a journey then for Sad Tiger, a book sent by post! It is a book that is neither beautiful nor tender. It's also not earth-shattering. So what? It is perfectly fair. We are talking about a book and not a novel, because it does not really meet the definition we have of it, that is to say, a Balzacian structure, with a plot, a chronology, elements disruptors, etc. Triste Tigre is at the same time a story, an autopsy, an essay, a confession. It resists categorization and goes beyond boxes, like its subject.
What is the book about? In 1983, Neige Sinno was 6 years old, her stepfather, 24. She is a blonde with big green eyes. He is tall, charismatic, athletic. He wants to love her like his own daughter, he says. But the child doesn't want to call him daddy, she already has one. Snow resists him. The man is big, as we have said, he is also strong, brutal. And one night, he joins her in bed, she doesn't dare to resist. The night will last eight years. Neige Sinno writes about incest without poetry or voyeurism. She could have described the rapist in her room, the gestures, the violence. She chose not to - except once and the scene is unspeakable.
For a long time, the author hesitated to speak. And then, Neige Sinno decided to write “in a kind of senseless rebellion” and this revolt is absolutely literary. This is where literature arises, because ultimately, this is the question that Triste Tigre poses: what can literature? Can she save? And here she is summoning her readings, from Woolf to Faulkner via Nabokov, Toni Morrison, Virginie Despentes… to try to find answers.
“I did not write this novel as a provocation, but as a challenge: dare to think, dare to reflect, dare to say,” explained the author to Le Figaro, during the first meeting of the Goncourt high school students. Even if I didn't know who I was addressing, I hope that the reader that I constructed in my text and who exists today dares to think, to set ideas, observations, questions in motion. . When I see a person who says to me 'I've been wondering', it makes me happy."
Neige Sinno, 46, now lives and teaches in Mexico. She is the author of La vie des rats, a collection of twelve short stories, published by La Tangente, (2007) and of a novel Le Camion, published by Christophe Lucquin publisher, (2018). This prize is likely to influence the vote of the Goncourts who, as we recall, since 2021 have had the principle of not awarding prizes to books that have already won awards. What will it actually be like? Response Tuesday, November 7 at 12:45 p.m., in Drouant.
The foreign Femina prize is awarded to Louise Erdrich, for La Sentence (translated from the American by Sarah Gurcel) by Albin Michel and the Femina essay to Hugo Micheron for La Colère et l'Oubli, (Gallimard).