African Writer Attacks Sarkozy's Immigration Policy: Marie NDiaye, the French-Senegalese Author and Winner of France's Prestigious Literary Prize, the Prix Goncourt, Has Stirred Up a Controversy with Her Criticism of President Nicolas Sarkozy and His Immigration Policy

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MARIE NDIAYE, 42, HAS BEEN making waves in France since her comments against Sarkozy's immigration policy became public. In an interview with Les Inrockuptibles magazine last summer, NDiaye said she had decided to leave France and move to the German capital, Berlin, in 2007 "in great part, because of Sarkozy ... after [he] won the election," because she found "France under his rule monstrous and vulgar."

She accused Sarkozy of creating the atmosphere of a police state in France. Efforts to silence her since she won the Prix Goncourt in early November have only added fuel to the debate. Despite coming under fire from government officials to retract her comments, NDaiye has stood steadfastly by her remarks. "I don't regret [my comments] for a second," she said on French Info radio.

The controversy began after Eric Raoult, a lawmaker and member of Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, wrote to the culture minister in early November recommending that NDiaye be reminded of the "duty of restraint" that comes with the Prix Goncourt.


In response, France's cultural establishment has thrown accusations of censorship into the debate. Bernard Pivot, a Prix Goncourt jury member, accused Raoult of knowing nothing about the literary scene. "The duty of restraint that he invokes never existed, does not exist now, and never will exist," Pivot told French radio.

NDiaye won the Prix Goncourt this year for her novel, Trois Femmes Puissantes (Three Powerful Women), a story about three women caught between France and Senegal and the hellish ordeal of illegal migration from Africa. "The story of these migrants has been told many times before, but if this can help people understand their fate a bit better, I will be happy," said NDiaye. …


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