Marie-Aude Murail

Marie-Aude Murail was born in Le Havre, France in 1954. She comes from a family of writers and with more than two millions volumes sold, numbers among the most beloved of contemporary children’s and young adults’ authors in her native country. She received a doctorate in new philology from the Sorbonne in Paris and began to write initially for adults before shifting to children’s and young adults’ literature in 1986. Her extensive work, which comprises more than 80 titles, ranges from illustrated children’s books and texts for very young readers to fantastical stories and loose teen series and books for young adults. Murail’s books have been translated into fourteen languages and included within the French school reading canon.

With wittiness and a great sense for the humour of a situation, the author spins her tales around unusual characters living under the most distressful of circumstances. Her often bittersweet tales about adolescents left on their own, highly intelligent children and egotistical adults are distinguished by their grotesque rise in complexity, which the author knows how to depict with spirit, humour and a distanced tone without putting into question the graveness of her characters. In the young adults book »Oh, boy!« (2000), the siblings Siméon, Morgane and Venise swear to never part ways after their mother’s suicide. Yet the authorities are strict, the grown up half-siblings incompetent, and destiny proves merciless when the oldest of them falls ill with leukemia. Murail writes refreshingly and without inhibition about human strengths and weaknesses, otherness and the perfidies of normality: »One can talk about life as it is, and thereby maintain hope. Nothing is irrevocably lost in life. But humour is also necessary. One can laugh and amuse oneself during the most difficult of moments. That is what I want to show children through this book.« For her young adults’ novel »Simple« (2006), the tragicomic story of two brothers, the author was awarded the Prix des Lycéens allemands in 2006: Simple, 22 years old, possesses the mental level and relentless honesty of a three-year-old. Together with his 17-year-old brother Colbert who took him away from the institution he was in, Simple moves into a shared student flat where he at first receives little sympathy due to his disposition towards chaos and his unmasking naiveté. The author impressively writes about courage and vanity, solidarity and love. »A book which through humorous means brings readers closer to a social taboo and at the same time emphasizes the relevance of the debate surrounding this subject«, concluded the jury of the Prix des Lycéens allemands.

Murail has been honored with countless prizes, among them, twice, the Prix Sorcières (1989 and 1990) as well as the Prix jeunesse France Télévision and the Prix Tam-Tam de Salon de livre de jeunesse de Montreuil. She has been a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur since 2004. Marie-Aude Murail lives in Orléans.

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