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Francophone Ambassadors’ Prize 2009

Danish writer Merete Pryds Helle has won this year’s Francophone Ambassadors’ Prize for her book “Oh, Romeo”.

The prize, worth 10,000 kr., was initiated by a group of Francophone ambassadors in Denmark (the Czech Republic has an observer status in the International Organisation of Francophonia).

Oh, Romeo (2006) is a modern version of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The novel is set in Copenhagen where Juliet is a PhD medicine student and Romeo is a taxi-driver of Iranian origin. They meet one night on a taxi ride and fall in love. But Juliet’s father and brother hate foreign immigrants – and the stage is set for true drama.

: (From left) French Ambassador Bérengère Quincy, Princess Marie, Merete Pryds Helle

Princess Marie presented the award to Merete Pryds Helle at the French Embassy on 22 October. The French Ambassador, Bérengère Quincy, said in her welcome speech, that the prize was awarded in Denmark as a contribution to inter-cultural dialogue. The Director of CIRIUS (an institution working to promote education and inter-cultural understanding), Anders Geertsen, spoke of his close personal relationship with the French language. The Czech Ambassador, Zdeněk Lyčka, emphasized, that Merete Pryds Helle brought the story of Romeo and Juliet back to life by placing a real-life political problem into an eternally relevant frame.

(From left) CIRIUS Director A. Geertsen, French Ambassador B. Quincy, Canadian Ambassador P. Lundy, Swiss Ambassador V. Christen, Moroccan Ambassador R. Ghannam, M. Pryds Helle, Princess Marie, Czech Ambassador Z. Lyčka, Croatian CDA I. Šuta