Scottish Author Peter May's "The Blackhouse" Wins Top French Literary Prize

Peter May was presented with France's biggest readers' prize at a ceremony in Strasbourg on October 15th for his book "The Blackhouse", currently #7 in the UK paperback charts after enjoying six weeks since publication in the British Top Twenty.
By: Peter May
The Blackhouse by Peter May
The Blackhouse by Peter May
Oct. 16, 2011 - PRLog -- In a decision taken by 3551 jurors from all walks of life all over France, the Scotsman beat off competition from a shortlist of ten European authors to lift the French national book award, the 2011 CEZAM Prix Litteraire Inter-CE.

May picked up his award at a ceremony in Strasbourg on October 15th for his book, "L'Ile des chasseurs d'oiseaux", (The Blackhouse) a chilling and atmospheric tale set on the Isle of Lewis in the remote Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  

CEZAM Prix Litteraire Inter CE
The Cezam Priz Litteraire Inter CE is notable for having one of the largest juries in the world of literary prizes.  Throughout the year more than 3500 jurors meet in 330 reading groups across France to read, consider and discuss the shortlist of ten books before voting using a points system. The votes are collected, verified and counted by the librarians and bookstore owners responsible for leading the groups.

The prize is in two parts, regional and national. Votes are counted first at a local level with prize winners being declared in each of 26 regions; then the points are amassed across France to calculate the winner of the National Award.   "L'Ile des chasseurs d'oiseaux", won 21 out of the 26 regional prizes and May will embark on a tour of France to attend regional award ceremonies across the country between now and mid-December.

"A Masterpiece"
The prize is the latest confirmation of May's popularity in his adopted homeland of France.  On publication there,  "L'Ile des chasseurs d'oiseaux", was immediately declared "a masterpiece" by the French national newspaper L'Humanité. It has already won two literary awards: Les Ancres Noires Prix des Lecteurs from the 2010 Le Havre book festival, and the 2011 PILP (Prix Inter Lycée Professionel).  Now May adds the national 2011 Cezam Prix Litteraire Inter-CE to the list.

Best-Seller in UK Hardback and Paperback Charts
"L'Ile des chasseurs d'oiseaux", or "The Blackhouse" entered the UK hardback top twenty at the beginning of 2011 and on publication as a paperback in September it immediately entered the UK paperback charts, where it has remained for the last 6 weeks.  It was chosen for the prestigious Richard and Judy Book Club's Autumn 2011 selection and has been praised by critics and readers alike:

"A beautifully written, haunting and powerful examination of the darkness of men's souls and how hard it can be to bury the past," The Blackhouse is also " outstanding page-turning murder mystery" according to the Irish Independent.  
It was described as "melancholy" and "brilliant" by The Literary Review;
"[May's] finest work... an impeccably written murder thriller" by the Daily Express;
"A chilling setting for a gripping novel... impressive writing" by The Times (London);
"400 pages of pitch-perfect dialogue and creepy, spine-tingling storytelling" by The Scotsman;
"an outstanding thriller that is as dark and chilling as the stormy Scottish seas on a winter's night" by The Daily Record;
and "a dark, evocative tale (...) beautifully-observed " by The Scots Magazine who selected it as their Book of the Month for June 2011.

Background to the Publication of the Book
"L'Ile des chasseurs d'oiseaux", was published first in France when it seemed that it would never be published in the UK.  The novel follows the story of a police officer from Edinburgh on a trip back to his native Isle of Lewis where the investigation of a case unlocks a door to long-buried memories and terrible secrets.   British crime editors were afraid that the novel's dark psychological drama would not have enough popular appeal and although praising the quality of the writing, all the major publishers in the UK turned it down.  May set the manuscript aside and began to work on other books.  As a result of a chance conversation, May's French publisher, Editions du Rouergue read "The Blackhouse" and immediately bought world rights.  In France the "roman noir" is very popular, where thrillers and literary novels with complex themes cross, and quality of writing is appreciated.  The book appeared first in French translation before taking the rest of Europe and finally the UK by storm.

Quercus - British Publisher of the Year - Publisher of "The Blackhouse"
In 2011 "The Blackhouse" was published in the UK by relatively new publishing house Quercus, who discovered Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.  Quercus was the fastest-growing trade publisher in the UK last year with sales rising 133%.  Established as recently as 2004, it was named as Publisher of the Year in 2011.

French Tour
May now embarks upon a tour of France visiting the regional centres to attend award ceremonies and receive the regional prizes.  Over the next two months he will visit: Macon, Bourg en Bresse, Annecy, Lyon, Clermont Ferrand, Angers, Nantes, Brive La Gaillarde Fete du Livre, Paris, Quimper, Lorient, Brest, Angouleme, Gardanne, Toulon, Annonay, Villefranche de Rouergue.

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Peter May is the author of several standalone novels and two series: the award-winning China Thrillers,and the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files. He is the recipient of two French book prizes, the latest for The Blackhouse the 1st of his new Lewis Trilogy.
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