“Clara was 13 years old, Clara loved reading, Clara loved writing, Clara left us suddenly. It is in Clara’s honor that we wanted to create this prize for teenagers who love reading and writing. Like Clara.” The idea arose, in emotion, on the day of the funeral of Clara, who died suddenly and who was subsequently discovered to have an incurable congenital heart defect, the editors Héloïse d’Ormesson and Gilles Cohen explain to us in substance. Solal, friends of Clara’s parents. This is how the first edition of For Clara was created in 2007.
“It’s incredible that these young people are the seismograph of the time”
No theme is imposed on the adolescents aged 13 to 18 solicited… But if in the first years, there was a lot of talk of suicide and illness in the seven award-winning short stories, the subjects have diversified over time: “We have passed from texts evoking wizards and witches, à la Harry Potter, says Héloïse d’Ormesson, to very societal and contemporary themes, such as globalization, sustainable development, wearing the veil, violence at school… It’s incredible what these young people are the seismograph of the times. And their speeches, at the time of the award ceremony, are truly breathtaking.” It is to better publicize this atypical prize and this annual publication (co-published since 2019 by Fleurus), that the organizers wanted, in this 17th edition, to mark the occasion: by organizing, Wednesday November 15, in addition to the traditional presentation to the the Paris City Hall, chaired by Anne Hidalgo, a large meeting at the French Academy, the same morning.
Fund research into heart defects
Why such a welcome? The reason is simple: the profits from the sale of the book are donated to the Association for Cardiology Research at Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital (ARCFA). “The objective of this prize,” writes Bernard Spitz, Clara’s father, “is to finance research into cardiac malformations under the direction of Professor Bonnet, head of the pediatric department at Necker hospital. Malformations that kill hundreds of people “teenagers every year… like Clara. But also to give teenagers who want to write with confidence in themselves, and other teenagers texts to read written by young people their age.”
The seven winners (or rather winners in this 2023 vintage) will be there, of course, under the Dome of the Quai Conti, but also around a hundred winners from previous years… To welcome them, a few academicians, including Erik Orsenna, honorary president of the price, and… Maxime Le Forestier, on guitar. German and Italian representatives will also be present, this literary and solidarity action having been taken up in their respective countries since 2021. Then, for the seven winners of 2023, head to the Chantelivre bookstore (13 rue de Sèvres, Paris 6th), in order to dedicate their work, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., last stop of a busy day: the Paris City Hall, for the award ceremony. Hoping that the sales of this collection of short stories are in tune with this beautiful youthful energy.