A Native New Yorker Wins First Prize in Literary Contest in Paris
Wepler-Fondation de la Poste 2012
by Jane Rosenstein and Didier Lambert
The Prix-Wepler celebrated its fifteenth anniversary on November 11, 2012. Brasserie Wepler, a frestaurant here in Paris famous for its seafood and oysters, located at 14 rue de la Place Clichy, near Montmartre has been hosting the Prix since its beginning. The restaurant, which started out as a lemonade stand, is over a hundred years old. Famous authors such as Céline, Max Jacob and Henry Miller met here for dining and conversation. . When we saw a photo of this on the wall from 1950, with Brasserie Wepler called Bar Americain we asked a waiter about this title and he said that at that time Wepler was a very big brasserie and included what is now the Cinema Pathé-Wepler, a large movie theater located adjacent to the outside café of Brasserie Wepler.
Each year authors whose works are not well-known and not written for commercial purposes compete for the prize. Brasserie Wepler closes its doors to customers to
host an elegant soirée. Michele Bessière loses the revenue for the evening and also provides food and beverages to the guests.
Le Prix Wepler- Fondation de la Poste was the idea of Marie-Rose Guarniéri owner of the bookshop La Librarie des Abesses in Montmartre. In 1998 she organized the prize and event with the Fondation de la Poste, an organization of the post office and Wepler Restaurant whose owner is Michèle Bressière. Today the team of Wepler Fondation de la Poste is made up of the following members: Marie-Rose Guarnérie (presiding),David Hout, Elisabeth Sanchez, Caroline Loustalot and Damien Lavel. We were cordially welcomed by Damien Lavel, presse attaché, when we arrived at Wepler.
A new experience this year was a magician doing a magic show. He did many great feats including making water in a glass disappear, creating and making fire from a cigarette lighter and making snow. The audience liked the show and applauded loudly.
To clebrate fifteen years, Marie-Rose Guarniéri had two video production persons Mathide Salve and Alexandre Lazar make twelve films from twelve books that the jury selected. In each film, a small portion of the text was read to coordinate between the visual and the oratory.
As a special way celebrate the 15th anniversary Michele Bessière,owner of Wepler, orignally from Aveyron designed a special “collector knife” from a company in Laguiole where the best knives in France are made and gave them as presents to former award winners, certain journalists and organizers
The jury who selected the first prize winner and the honorable mention winner, Marie-Rose Guarniéri, a member of Fondation de la Presse and the owner of Wepler Restaurant Michel Bessière mounted the stage. Each year the jury changes and is composed of readers, journalists, book store personnel, Marie Rose Guaraniéri and Elizabeth Sanchez Secretaire Général Prix Wepler-Fondation de la Poste. We waited anxiously to see who the winners would be.
Leslie Kaplan, a native New Yorker who grew up in Paris , won the first prize of 10,000 Euros for her novel “Millefueille ” ( Publisher Editions P.O. L.) She studied philosophy, history and psychology. She worked two years in a factory and participated in the movement of May, 1968. “Millefeuille” is the story of an old professor of literature who knows he is heading for death and his inner conflict to live. It is about the muti dimension of human existance and also about the rapport between generations: an old person and the young people; Leslie said it was a pleasure for her to write. She told us that she was honored to receive first prize.
Jakuta Alijkazovic received the award of Mention Spécial ,Honorable Mention, created in 1999 and 3000 Euros for her book “La Blonde et le Bunker” (publisher L’Oliver ). It is a novel about three people: a wife, a husband and a lover who all live on different floors in the same house. The author also won a prize in 2007 , Le Prix Concourt for her book “Corps Volatile”. Jakuta told us that she was honored and thrilled to win the prize.
After the prize, we enjoyed the fine food and drinks Brasserie Wepler offered. There were many hors d’oeuvres, hot and cold, champagne, wine and soft drinks. It gave us the opportunity to meet the attendees. Our friend Martine Lequantrec from Association Montmartre en Europe intoduced us to several prominent people. We enjoyed meeting Michel Langlois who is the president and director of a publication ”Montmartre à la Une;” He said he is a friend of Michèle Bessier and likes to eat at Wepler especially the French specialty dishes which are delicious. He likes literature and authors who are not so well known. Michel said it is important to buy the books. Then he invited the three of us to his special celebration of the ten year anniversary of his publication. Next we met two ladies, video production students,who assisted with the filming of the books. We also met others told us that they came to learn and discover things. Several people told us that they prefer paper books to e-books.
Then we met Miss Montmartre, Sandy Laderiere, who came with her sponsor. She is beautiful and very friendly.
Afterwards we danced to music played by a good D.J. The crowd loved his selection of music and there was plenty of room on the dancefloor.
Michele Bassière , Marie-Rose Guarniéri, Fondation de la Poste and Damien Lavel did a good job organizing a very informative and enjoyable soirée for Le Prix Wepler Fondation de la Presse 2012.
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