Paris (AFP)

Hervé Le Tellier's novel "L'Anomalie" became the second best-selling Goncourt prize in history, we learned on Monday from Gallimard editions.

Le Goncourt 2020, an anticipatory novel written by a member of the experimental literature group Oulipo, has surpassed in this place a book of a completely different kind, "Les Bienveillantes" by Franco-American Jonathan Littell, crowned in 2006 for these memoirs fictitious of an SS officer.

"L'Anomalie" has sold some 633,000 copies since its release in August, according to figures from the GfK institute, while "Les Bienveillantes", now third, has sold 618,000 copies in fifteen years, Gallimard clarified.

The most successful Goncourt remains "L'Amant" by Marguerite Duras, which won the prize in 1984. It has sold 1.63 million copies, according to the editions of Minuit, which have never been released. pocket edition.

In 1985 alone, when it was worth 49 francs (7.50 euros), it had sold around a million.

Nowadays, at a price of 12.50 euros, this novel about a memory of the novelist's youth in French Indochina keeps a rate of 12,000 to 14,000 copies per year, Minuit told AFP.

The unexpected success of Hervé Le Tellier exceeded all the expectations of its author and its publisher, who had launched it with a modest circulation of just over 12,000 copies.

"I have not yet fully taken the measure of what this represents (...) compared to most of my books before, which have never exceeded 30,000 to 40,000 copies, which is already a lot" , the novelist said on RTL radio Monday.

"But here we come to levels that surprise me, which are undoubtedly linked to a whole series of factors that we can analyze objectively, and subjectively too. But yes, that totally changes the place of a writer in the landscape. literary, ”he added.

"People are unfortunately confined, and books are taking advantage."

The circulation of "The Anomaly" now reaches 930,000 copies, with a current rate of just under 20,000 copies sold each week.

© 2021 AFP