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Éric Vuillard Wins Goncourt Prize for Work on Hitler’s Rise


Éric Vuillard, center, won the Prix Goncourt, the top literary honor in France, for “L’Ordre du Jour” on Monday. The book explores complicity in the Nazis’ rise to power.

Eric Feferberg/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, has been awarded to “L’Ordre du Jour,” by Éric Vuillard, a historical work about shady business dealings behind the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938.

The book, published by Actes Sud and set to be translated in the United States under the title “The Order of the Day,” was honored on Monday in a ceremony at the Paris restaurant Drouant.

The prize, selected by 10 members of the Académie Goncourt, comes with a symbolic award of 10 euros, or about $12, but it usually results in sharp spikes in sales in France and beyond. Previous winners include Michel Houellebecq, Marcel Proust and Simone de Beauvoir.

“L’Ordre du Jour” is based on historical documents and photographs. It opens with a friendly meeting in 1933 between Hitler and 24 major figures in German industry and finance, including brands like Bayer and Allianz that are familiar today.

“They are here beside us, among us,” Mr. Vuillard writes. “They are our cars, our washing machines, our household goods, our radio-alarms, our homeowner’s insurance, our watch batteries. They are here, there and everywhere, as all sorts of things. Our daily life is theirs.”

Mr. Vuillard, a 49-year-old filmmaker and the author of several previous novels, said by telephone that he had been inspired by Montesquieu’s warning that the concentration of power and money in the hands of a few was “dangerous for everybody.”

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