France's top literary prize, the Goncourt, on Wednesday went to Jerome Ferrari for a Corsican epic, set in a bar on the violence-wracked Mediterranean island.
French writer Jerome Ferrari. Photo: AFP / Miguel Medina
"Le Sermon de la Chute de Rome" (The Sermon of the Fall of Rome) tells of a young man who packs in his philosophy studies to open a bar with an old friend, with the aim of turning it into a haven of peace and friendship.
But things take a radically different turn as drink, sex, corruption -- and the violence for which Corsica has become known -- cast their shadow over the young idealists' plans.
Himself a philosophy teacher, currently at the French lycee in Abu Dhabi, the French novelist previously taught in the Corsican capital Ajaccio.
The novel's win comes with Corsica making headlines over an increase in violence, with 38 murders and 117 attempted murders since the start of 2011 on an island with a population of just over 300,000 -- the highest homicide rate in Europe.
Most of the slayings, police believe, have been linked to feuds over control of protection rackets targeting tourist businesses and lucrative property development on an island that remains relatively unspoiled.