This short novel is a monologue in free verse in which an old Syrian poet, retired by a lake, recalls painful moments in his life and in the history of his country, hit by war.

“I told myself that I was going to write the history of Syria through the voice of this old man, letting him dive into his memories and the waters of this lake, with an extremely simple, poetic word,” said the writer, on France Inter Monday morning.

Originally from the Liège region, Antoine Wauters, 41, has won a string of literary prizes: he won the Marguerite Duras prize in October then the Wepler prize in November for the same novel, his fourth published by Verdier.

He also won the Goncourt Prize for New 2022 for “The Museum of Contradictions” (Editions du Sous-Sol), a collection of 12 speeches by rebels.

First a teacher in higher education, Antoine Wauters had been noticed with “Our mothers”, in 2014, his first novel, which tells the exile in Europe of a child who fled a war in the Middle East.

It was chosen from among ten works in competition, by a jury made up of 24 France Inter listeners from all regions of France, chaired by the novelist Delphine de Vigan.