About the American Library in Paris Book Award

The Book Award was launched in 2013 with a generous gift to the Library from the Florence Gould Foundation. The past recipients of the prize reflect the diversity of intellectual and literary output that the Book Award seeks to recognize.

The Book Award follows a long tradition of showcasing and celebrating authors at the American Library. The Library was created in part as a memorial to a young American poet, Alan Seeger, who wrote the well-known poem “I Have a Rendezvous with Death” not long before he died in action in France in 1916. One of the Library’s founding trustees was Edith Wharton. Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, among many other writers of note, contributed reviews to the Library’s literary magazine, Ex Libris. Stephen Vincent Benét composed John Brown’s Body at the Library. Authors of every generation have worked and spoken at the Library: Ford Madox Ford, Archibald MacLeish, Colette, Henry Miller, André Gide, Anaïs Nin, James Baldwin, Irwin Shaw, James Jones, and Mary McCarthy, to name a few from the past. As the Library approaches its centennial, it remains the pre-eminent center in Paris for evening talks by prominent authors, artists, and other public figures.

The 2019 Book Award Submissions

This is the seventh year of the American Library in Paris Book Award, recognizing the most distinguished books of the year, in English, about France. In this cycle, eighty-two titles were submitted by authors, publishers, and others for consideration.

The Book Award, which carries a $5,000 prize, is supported by generous funding from the Florence Gould Foundation. A Paris-based screening committee will select five or six finalists for the 2019 prize. The winning title will be chosen by this year’s independent jury: Alice Kaplan, professor of French at Yale University and author of seven books, including Looking for the Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic; New York Times Magazine contributing writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of Losing My Cool: Love, Literature, and a Black Man’s Escape from the Crowd and the forthcoming Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race; and Pamela Druckerman, Paris-based New York Times columnist and author of There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story and four other books.

The Book Award laureate will be announced in the presence of the winning author and Library supporters at an invitation-only ceremony in Paris in November. If you are interested in becoming a patron of the Book Award ceremony, or have questions about the prize, please write the Book Award administrator, Charles Trueheart, at bookaward@americanlibraryinparis.org.

All the submissions for the 2019 Book Award are in the Library’s circulating collection and are available for checkout by members.

The 2018 Book Award goes to A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle

The jury were impressed by Julian Jackson’s magnificent biography of the strangest and most significant figure to mark French history in the twentieth century. A Certain Idea of France is a triumph of scholarship and thoughtfulness, and an important contribution to France’s understanding of itself. Jackson’s book is a masterpiece of historical writing that provides an intimate portrait of an unusual man, a profound reflection on the history of France, and a gripping, stylish narrative at the same time.

Jackson accepted the award, and the $5,000 prize, at a reception at the George C. Marshall Center near the Place de la Concorde on Thursday 8 November 2018. Library Director Audrey Chapuis and Book Award Administrator Charles Trueheart presented the award.

In his remarks, Jackson discussed the challenges of writing about de Gaulle, a “weird” and “extraordinarily pragmatic person,” when there are “no new facts.” Jackson told the assembled guests he tried to convey de Gaulle’s sense of history and understanding of the world, and noted “that wisdom that comes from history—the deep understanding of history—is something we miss today.”

The American Library in Paris Book Award recognizes a work in English that deepens and stimulates our understanding of France or the French.

Read the full 2018 Book Award Press Release here. A photo gallery of the 2018 Book Award ceremony can be viewed on the Library’s Flickr page.

Winning author Julian Jackson (center), American Library Director Audrey Chapuis and Book Award Administrator Charles Trueheart (photo: Krystal Kenney)

Past Winners

'A Certain Idea of France,' winner of the 2018 American Library in Paris Book Award (photo: Krystal Kenney)


The Award is administered by the American Library in Paris and is overseen by its Writers Council. The jury for the 2018 award included Diane Johnson, novelist, essayist, critic, and chairman of the Library’s Writers Council; David Bellos, Princeton professor, translator, and author of last year’s winning book, The Novel of the Century; and Pierre Assouline, biographer, novelist, critic, and editor of larepubliquedeslivres.com.

For a list of frequently asked questions, please check The American Library in Paris Book Award FAQs.


  • Submissions for the 2019 Award opened on 1 November 2018.
  • Any book-length prose fiction or nonfiction work, originally written in English, about France or the French, will be considered by a committee of Award screeners. Nominated books must be scheduled for publication between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019.
  • Anyone – author, publisher, agent, reader — may submit books for this award.
  • Books published exclusively in electronic form or online are not eligible.
  • A reprint of a book first published in another year is not eligible.
  • Books by members of the Writers Council or screening committee are not eligible for the Award.
  • The decision of the jury is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the judging process.

As soon as you know you would like to submit a book, please notify Orlene McMahon at bookaward@americanlibraryinparis.org with the title of the book(s) and the estimated date the Library will receive the book(s). All submitted books must be postmarked and mailed to the American Library in Paris no later than 1 May 2019. Early submissions are encouraged.

Nomination Process

All submission materials for the 2019 Book Award must be received by 1 May 2019.

  • STEP ONE – Complete the online submission form. A separate form must be submitted for each title.
  • STEP TWO – Submit the entry fee of €50,00 or $60.00. A separate entry fee must be submitted for each title. We accept payments by check in euros or U.S. dollars, by credit card via Paybox (see link below), or via wire transfer.

Entry Fee Payment

Pay Online via Paybox

Please make checks payable to The American Library in Paris and send them to the address below. Contact Orlene McMahon at bookaward@americanlibraryinparis.org to pay via wire transfer.

  • STEP THREE – Send us five (5) copies of each submitted book. Proof or reviewer’s copies are acceptable as long as the book’s publication date will fall on or before 30 June 2019 and must be replaced by finished copies at the time of publication.

The American Library in Paris Book Award
c/o The American Library in Paris
10, rue du Général Camou
75007 Paris

Phone number, if needed by shipper:  +33 1 53 59 12 60

If you choose to send books via FedEx, UPS, DHL, or another shipping company, please send an e-mail to bookaward@americanlibraryinparis.org to provide a tracking number.


1 November 2018Submissions open
1 May 2019Submissions close
15 July 2019Longlist announced
1 September 2019Shortlist announced
November 2019Winner announced at award ceremony in Paris

Books received will not be returned and become property of the American Library in Paris. The American Library in Paris Book Award is made possible by a generous gift from the Florence Gould Foundation.