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Eric Mendi: Twice Winner of the Grand of Prix of Literary Associations

Eric Mendi-winner of Belles-Lettres Category of GPLA 2016

About two weeks after the GPLA 2016 Awards Ceremony, people are still wondering about the unexpected victory of the Laureate in the Belles-Lettres Category of the fourth edition of the Grand Prix of Literary Associations.

 Eric Mendi, a writer described by Senegalese website Senenews.com as “until now a modest Cameroonian author living in Cameroon, published in Cameroon, [who] has been preferred by an international Jury to Tahar Ben Jelloun (Member of the Goncourt Academy), to Chigozie Obioma (shortlisted in the Man Booker Prize 2015), Enoh Meyomesse (well known in Cameroonian literary circles), Othuke Ominiabohs (a young novelist very much appreciated in Nigeria), and Tohou Djemohan (another gifted author from Côte d’Ivoire)”.

May be it should be recalled that Eric Mendi, without being pretentious, is not at his first Grand Prix des Belles-Lettres. He had already won the prize with a novel entitled “Opération Obama” in the GPLA 2013 edition. But his then rivals were not as famous as those of the latest edition, even if we can’t deny they were very good authors, one from France and the other one from Cameroon. Moreover, they were only three Nominees running for the Prize in the GPLA 2013 Belles-Lettres Category, half the number of the shortlisted of the outing edition in the same category.

 Answering a journalist’s question at the exit of the GPLA 2016 Awards Ceremony, Eric Mendi modestly declared that he had such great respect for his unfortunate competitors that he was suspecting that he might just have been a bit more lucky than them (: “… J’ai le sentiment quej’aipeut-êtreétéaidé par la chance”). Professor Hubert Mono Ndjana, the President of the Jury, declared on Eric Mendi’s work: “I read AFANE, and I was amazed (J’ailu AFANE, et j’aiété émerveillé)!”

AFANE was probably with ODUFA one of the favorite works of the GPLA 2016 finals in the Belles-Lettres Category, according to the Chairman; he declared commenting Othuke Ominiabohs’ work: “A novel with no cultural nor thematic ambitions, written for the beauty and the feeding, but with a deep metaphysics of life, and moreover, with a rich vocabulary.”

Eric Mendi’s work, AFANE – Forêt Equatoriale, was proposed to the Jury by a Cameroonian association called Maison de la Culture Québec – Cameroun.

Other GPLA 2016 Laureates:  Late Cameroonian author Sankie Maimo (1930 -2013) has been enthroned posthumously with the Grand Prix de la Mémoire. In the Research Category, Senegalese author Felwine Sarr won the prize, thanks to his book entitled Afrotopia, that had been proposed to the Jury by CLIJEC, a Cameroonian literary association. The Grand Prix des Mécènes went to Ivorian writer Bernard Dadié, and the French literary association Gangotena won the Asso-prize 2016.

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