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Paris, Ep. 1

 September 23, 2009—The Literary Death Match descended on Paris' Le Reservoir with a brilliant result, as Mohamed Razane was a more successful knifesmith than Max Monnehay in a shockingly close game of Stab a Hole in Liechtenstein. In front of a confused crowd of 165, Razane was awarded the Literary Death Match medal, and a secure place in the event's storied history. 

The first-ever LDM in French (and the first in a language other than English) was co-hosted by Opium Europe editor-at-large and fluent French speaker Kevin Dolgin, alongside Opium's founder Todd Zuniga (who's French is considered "passable" by people who don't know French). The two welcomed Razane and award-winner Philippe Jaenada to do battle in the first round. After the flip of a Euro to decide who was first, Razane led off, reading from the opening pages of his novel, Dit Violent. An ex-boxer, he weaved barely back and forth, from foot to foot, during his eight minutes at the mic. Next up was Jaenada, who had the adoring crowd tittering as he read an excerpt from his latest novel, Plage de Manaccora, 16h30.

Mohamed Razane leads off LDM Paris, Ep. 1For all photos from this event, click here.

The judges—Les juges: David Foenkinos (La délicatesse), Yorgos Archimandritis (écrivain, critique littéraire et journaliste), Bo (musicien plastico-pop)—were left with an impossible decision. In the end, their mental coinflips led to their selecting Razane as the evening's first finalist.

Kicking off the second round was a forgetful Frédéric Beigbeder (99 Francs, Un Roman Français), who misplaced his text, forcing him to distract the crowd by freelancing for several minutes—kindly complementing the LDM along the way, before finally accepting a copy of his book from one of his fans who had brought her copy along. After Beigbeder stepped down, up came Max Monnehay, who ended the night in grand fashion with her seductive tale of a key fitting into, well, many holes. The mic was then turned over to the judges for the last time, where Bo gave Beigbeder "the business" for his lack of preparation, and after a huddle, the judges elected to send Monnehay on as the night's second finalist. 

David Foenkinos judges Frédéric Beigbeder while Max Monnehay awaits her critique

Then came the absurd, crowd-quieting/confusing finale, as Razane and Monnehay were both blindfolded, and placed—steak knife in hand—before a massive map of Europe. After being spun three times Razane went first, diving his knife into Bremen, Germany (~800 km clear of Liechtenstein). Up next was Monnehay, who knifed a gaping hole into Warsaw, Poland (~1,100 km away). The result: Mohamed Razane was crowned the first-ever Literary Death Match Paris champion! 

All of it was then followed by Bo on stage. 

Bo gets musical after his brilliant judging