The American writer AJ Dungo won one of France's top graphic novel prizes Wednesday for his heart-breaking tale of love, loss and surfing, "In Waves".
Dungo's acclaimed story is on one level a sideways history of surfing's Hawaiian pioneers and how the Malibu wave rider Tom Blake revolutionised board design.
But it was the powerful parallel narrative of Dungo's own tragic love for his late partner Kristen Tuason, a fellow surf fanatic who died of bone cancer, which moved the judges of the BD Fnac/France Inter prize.
Tuason helped the Florida-born illustrator, who lives in Los Angeles, overcome his fear of the sea before her death aged 25 in 2016.
"In Waves", 27-year-old Dungo's first book, has been compared to William Finnegan's meditative Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life". Drawn in steely aquatic greeny-blue, critics hailed it as "moving and fascinating" in the way it interweaves the great heroes of surfing with the author's adoration of his girlfriend.