Top French book prize to story of Zelda Fitzgerald

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PARIS, Nov 5 (Reuters) A novel recounting the story of one of American literature's most famous couples has won France's top literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, the jury said today.

''Alabama Song'' by Gilles Leroy tells the story of Southern Belle Zelda Sayre as she marries the future author of ''The Great Gatsby'', F Scott Fitzgerald and then struggles to exist in the shadow of his success.

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived a glamorous existence in Paris, the Riviera and America before an alcohol-fuelled decline established their place among ''the beautiful and the damned'' of the 1920s.

The entry to the Drouant restaurant in Paris, where the prize is announced every year, was packed with literary journalists and fans today.

But the 2007 award aroused little of the interest sparked a year earlier by U.S. author Jonathan Littell's ''Les Bienveillantes'' (''The Kindly Ones''), a fictional Nazi officer's account of his barbarous actions in World War Two.

REUTERS MP AS0108

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