Author and journalist Michel Jean was a finalist for two literary awards in Europe this year for his 7the roman, Kukum, published last fall by Libre Expression. He won a first, Tuesday, the France-Quebec Literary Prize, which since 1998 has recognized the excellence of a contemporary Quebec novel.
The other two finalists were Your death to me, by David Goudreault, and Waterfowl, scored by Gabrielle Filteau-Chiba. In 2019, author Matthieu Simard received the distinction for The writings.
Kukum, launched in France at the beginning of the year, tells the story of Michel Jean’s great-grandmother, Almanda Siméon, an orphan who falls in love at the age of 15 with a young Innu and who becomes part of the indigenous community. More than 6,000 copies have passed here.
But his writings also appeal to Europeans. Michel Jean confirms that Kukum was reprinted in France, in addition to being among the ten finalists for the Jacques-Lacarrière Prize, the winner of which will be known at the end of the year.
“It means that young people who are in the region, in the community, see that their history is important enough to cross the ocean”, he rejoiced, Tuesday, in an interview with The newspaper.
For Michel Jean, it is much more than the not trivial story of his great-grandmother who seduced the European jury. “There is an interest in France for indigenous issues, he notes, but it is not the folk question that interests them. It is that of the self-determination of peoples. ”
The TVA Nouvelles news anchor was particularly touched on Tuesday to receive this award, which will allow him to make a promotional tour throughout France.
“The award is like something that recognizes work that is even more personal than that of a journalist,” he underlines.
“I’m a complete stranger there,” he adds. It’s not because they think I’m a good TV reporter that they are interested in my book, it’s because they really liked the text. […] It touches me even more. ”
Michel Jean’s next novel will be released in the fall of 2021. It will still draw inspiration from its roots, but from the perspective of urban natives. In the meantime, in the spring, he will launch a second collection of short stories, written with a collective of about fifteen native authors.