Miguel Bonnefoy
© D.R.

Guest 2021.


Icare et autres nouvelles


Paris, 2013


Le Voyage dʼOctavio


Paris, 2015




Paris, 2016


Sucre noir


Paris, 2017




Paris, 2020

Miguel Bonnefoy [ Venezuela, France ]

Miguel Bonnefoy was born in Paris in 1986. His Venezuelan mother was a cultural attaché in various countries, so he often changed his place of residence as a child. He attended French high school in several European and Latin American countries, learning various languages along the way. Later Bonnefoy settled in Paris, where he still lives, studied French literature at the Sorbonne, and wrote his dissertation on Romain Gary and Louis Aragon. On weekends, he worked as a secondhand bookseller on the banks of the Seine. Eventually, he began writing on his own, using French as his literary language and his varied experiences as his material.

In 2009, Bonnefoy won the Grand Prix for short prose at the Sorbonne Nouvelle for his work »La Maison et le Voleur« (tr: The House and the Thief). Four years later, he was awarded the Prix du jeune écrivain de langue française for »Icare et autres Nouvelles« (2013; tr: Icarus and other news). »Le Voyage dʼOctavio« (2015; Eng. »Octavio's Journey«, 2017), a poetic hymn to Venezuela, was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt in the debut novel category, has received a number of awards, and has been translated into several languages. With expressive language full of metaphors, allegories, fairy tale, and fable elements, Bonnefoy's story, structurally reminiscent of »Candide,« tells of the adventures of an illiterate Venezuelan who discovers love and writing for himself. Critics placed his debut novel in the tradition of the magic realism of García Márquez, Alejo Carpentier, or Jorge Amado. In his second novel, »Sucre noir« (2017; Eng. »Black Sugar«, 2018), which was a finalist at the Prix Femina, Bonnefoy interweaves the legend of the famous privateer Henry Morgan with a story about the search for the treasure he hid, which turns the life of a family in a village in the Caribbean upside down. Bonnefoy's latest novel, »Héritage« (2020; tr: Inheritance), is the four-generation saga of a French mining family that emigrates to Venezuela. There, they increasingly reflect on their own roots and eventually cultivate a form of detached patriotism and love for their motherland. Bonnefoy focuses his attention on the history of French emigrants and, at the same time, draws partly on his own family history: The Bonnefoys, hatters and winegrowers, had moved from the Jura Mountains to Santiago de Chile in the 19th century. The novel was among the finalists for the Grand Prix du Roman de lʼAcadémie française (2020) and was nominated for the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Femina.

Miguel Bonnefoy has also taught French for the Alliance française in places including Caracas, where he witnessed Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution. In 2018/2019, he was a fellow at Villa Medici. He is a 2021 guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.