PARIS, FRANCE – During a gala at the Petit Palais hosted by French literary magazine LIRE, it was announced this evening that “Ce qu’ils n’ont pas pu nous prendre” was selected as “Best Novel For Young People 2011.” Written by Ruta Sepetys and published as “Between Shades of Gray” in the U.S. by Philomel, the novel tells the tragic story of Stalin’s deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia. The award-winning book is published in France by Editions Gallimard Jeunesse.
Pictured here: Christine Baker, Editorial Director for Gallimard Jeunesse with author Ruta Sepetys.
Esteemed and widely-read, LIRE is a monthly literary journal with a circulation of over 800,000. Each year LIRE selects the best books in several categories. Their annual selection is highly regarded by French critics and the public alike. It is unique that this year’s laureate is an American. “This is more happiness than my heart can hold,” said Sepetys. “I’m so grateful to LIRE, my translator Bee Formentelli, Gallimard Jeunesse, La Nouvelle Agence, Philomel, Writers House, and most of all – the incredible foreign rights team at Penguin Young Readers Group. For Lithuanian and Baltic history to be recognized in this way means we have not forgotten those who suffered under Stalin.”
Christine Baker, Editorial Director of Gallimard Jeunesse explained, “France is not endowed with children’s book awards of long tradition in the way that the U.S. and Great Britain are. The top accolade of a highly-respected literary magazine such as LIRE is therefore of major significance for the French professionals and public alike. For me personally, this distinction is the most important of all. The award is a benchmark, unanimously seen as unbiased, neither too ‘elitist’ nor too ‘commercial’, based on genuine quality alone. “Ce qu’ils n’ont pas pu nous prendre” was chosen as the best out of thousands of new titles this year, elected out of hundreds of authors…many French. What LIRE is so aptly celebrating, with this choice, is the power of books, the power of survival and memory, and that is the power of what Ruta has achieved.”
Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee and currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. “Between Shades of Gray” is a New York Times bestseller, a Carnegie Medal nominee, and is currently published in 29 countries.