The Prix des Deux Magots is 90 years old!

The Prix des Deux Magots follows the history of the café and the neighborhood in which it was born.

Founded in 1933, following in the footsteps of three other major institutional prizes – the Prix Goncourt (1902), the Prix Femina (1904) and the Prix Renaudot (1926) – thePrix des Deux Magots is one of France’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards, anchored in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

He celebrates his 90th birthday in 2023. Traditionally awarded in January, the prize will now be awarded on the last Monday of September, making it the first major prize of the autumn literary season.

Fantasy, boldness and freedom of choice have been the cardinal virtues of the prize since its inception. In awarding the prize to Raymond Queneau, little known to the general public at the time, the 1933 jury threw a spanner in the works’ works. The tone was set: the Prix des Deux Magots, created in reaction to the Prix Goncourt deemed too academic, would follow its own path, in keeping with the spirit of the place: artistic and non-conformist par excellence.

The Prix des Deux Magots is 90 years old!

The next day, the owner of the Café des Deux Magots, Auguste Boulay, learned of the unexpected creation of the prize from the press coverage, and decided to endow it himself. The principle has never wavered: every year, the Prix des Deux Magots is awarded by the Boulay-Mathivat family, who have run the establishment for four generations.

In almost a century, only three presidents have succeeded each other at the head of the Prix des Deux Magots: Henri Philippon, Jean-Paul Caracalla and today Étienne de Montety, writer, director of Le Figarolittéraire and former 2014 winner for La route du salut.

An eclectic list of winners debut novels such as Europe in the wild (1950) by Antoine Blondin, the cult thriller by Albert Simonin Don’t mess with the gray stuff ! (1953) or Pauline Réage’s erotic novel History ofO (1955), the Prix des Deux Magots unveils a discreet but inventive literature “capable of moving away from stale literary plots”. It cultivates a certain independence of thought that is reflected in its choice of prizewinners: Michel del Castillo (Le vent de la nuit, 1973), Geneviève Dormann (Le bateau du courrier, 1975), Sébastien Japrisot (L’été meurtrier, 1978), François Weyergans (Macaire le Copte, 1982), Gilles Lapouge (The Battle of Wagram, 1987), Marc Lambron (L’impromptu de Madrid, 1989), Christian Bobin (Le Très-Bas, 1993), Eric Neuhoff(Barbe à papa, 1996), Serge Joncour(L’Ecrivain national, 2015), Jérôme Garcin(Le dernier hiver du Cid, 2020)… True to its vocation as a “discoverer”, the Prix des Deux Magots has revealed many new authors. Marc Dugain, winner in 1999 for La Chambre des officiers, went on to win almost twenty literary prizes.

While perpetuating the spirit of the prize, Étienne de Montety set about modernizing it. The winner is now chosen by a partially renewed jury. It brings together personalities from different worlds: Isabelle Carré, Clara Dupont-Monod, Abel Quentin, Jean-Luc Coatalem, Benoît Duteurtre, Pierre Kyria, Marianne Payot, Pauline Dreyfus, Laurence Caracalla, Éric Deschodt and Jean Chalon.