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About Annie Ernaux
The author of some twenty works of fiction and memoir, ANNIE ERNAUX is considered by many to be France’s most important writer. In 2022, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She has also won the Prix Renaudot for “A Man's Place” and the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her body of work. More recently she received the International Strega Prize, the Prix Formentor, the French-American Translation Prize, and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for “The Years”, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Her other works include “Getting Lost,” “Exteriors,” “A Girl's Story”, “A Woman's Story,” “The Possession,” “Simple Passion,” “Happening,” “I Remain in Darkness,” “Shame,” “A Frozen Woman,” and “A Man's Place.”
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Books By Annie Ernaux
Au travers de photos et de souvenirs laissés par les événements, les mots et les choses, Annie Ernaux donne à ressentir le passage des années, de l'après-guerre à aujourd'hui. En même temps, elle inscrit l'existence dans une forme nouvelle d'autobiographie, impersonnelle et collective.
Shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize
Considered by many to be the iconic French memoirist's defining work and a breakout bestseller when published in France in 2008
The Years is a personal narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present—even projections into the future—photos, books, songs, radio, television and decades of advertising, headlines, contrasted with intimate conflicts and writing notes from 6 decades of diaries.
Local dialect, words of the times, slogans, brands and names for the ever-proliferating objects, are given voice here. The voice we recognize as the author's continually dissolves and re-emerges. Ernaux makes the passage of time palpable. Time itself, inexorable, narrates its own course, consigning all other narrators to anonymity. A new kind of autobiography emerges, at once subjective and impersonal, private and collective.
On its 2008 publication in France, The Years came as a surprise. Though Ernaux had for years been hailed as a beloved, bestselling and award-winning author, The Years was in many ways a departure: both an intimate memoir "written" by entire generations, and a story of generations telling a very personal story. Like the generation before hers, the narrator eschews the "I" for the "we" (or "they", or "one") as if collective life were inextricably intertwined with a private life that in her parents' generation ceased to exist. She writes of her parents' generation (and could be writing of her own book): "From a common fund of hunger and fear, everything was told in the "we" and impersonal pronouns."
Co-winner of the 2018 French-American Foundation Translation Prize in Nonfiction
Winner of the 2017 Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her entire body of work
Winner of the 2016 Strega European Prize
The diary of one of France’s most important, award-winning writers during the year she had a passionate and secret love affair with a Russian diplomat
Getting Lost is the diary Annie Ernaux kept during the year and a half she had a secret love affair with a younger, married man, a Russian diplomat. Her novel, Simple Passion, was based on this affair, but here her writing is immediate, unfiltered.
In these diaries it is 1989 and Annie is divorced with two grown sons, living outside of Paris and nearing fifty. Her lover escapes the city to see her there and Ernaux seems to survive only in expectation of these encounters, saying “his desire for me is the only thing I can be sure of.” She cannot write, she trudges distractedly through her various other commitments in the world, she awaits his next call; she lives only to feel desire and for the next rendezvous. When he is gone and the desire has faded, she feels that she is a step closer to death.
Lauded for her spare prose, Ernaux here removes all artifice, her writing pared down to its most naked and vulnerable. Getting Lost is as strong a book as any that she has written, a haunting, desperate view of strong and successful woman who seduces a man only to lose herself in love and desire.
Ce texte est une clé pour lire l’œuvre d’Annie Ernaux — son rapport au temps et à l’écriture.
A Frozen Woman charts Ernaux's teenage awakening, and then the parallel progression of her desire to be desirable and her ambition to fulfill herself in her chosen profession - with the inevitable conflict between the two.
And then she is 30 years old, a teacher married to an executive, mother of two infant sons. She looks after their nice apartment, raises her children. And yet, like millions of other women, she has felt her enthusiasm and curiosity, her strength and her happiness, slowly ebb under the weight of her daily routine. The very condition that everyone around her seems to consider normal and admirable for a woman is killing her.
While each of Ernaux's books contain an autobiographical element, A Frozen Woman, one of Ernaux's early works, concentrates the spotlight piercingly on Annie herself. Mixing affection, rage and bitterness, A Frozen Woman shows us Ernaux's developing art when she still relied on traditional narrative, before the shortened form emerged that has since become her trademark.
A New York Times Notable Book
In her spare, stark style, Annie Ernaux documents the desires and indignities of a human heart ensnared in an all-consuming passion.
Blurring the line between fact and fiction, an unnamed narrator attempts to plot the emotional and physical course of her 2 year relationship with a married foreigner where every word, event, and person either provides a connection with her beloved or is subject to her cold indifference.
With courage and exactitude, she seeks the truth behind an existence lived entirely for someone else, and, in the pieces of its aftermath, she is able to find it.
"My father tried to kill my mother one Sunday in June, in the early afternoon," begins Shame, the probing story of the twelve-year-old girl who will become the author herself, and the single traumatic memory that will echo and resonate throughout her life.
With the emotionally rich voice of great fiction and the diamond-sharp analytical eye of a scientist, Annie Ernaux provides a powerful reflection on experience and the power of violent memory to endure through time, to determine the course of a life.
Taking the form of random journal entries over seven years, Exteriors captures the feeling of contemporary living on the outskirts of Paris. Poignantly lyrical, chaotic, and strangely alive.
A New York Times Notable Book
"A deeply affecting account of mothers and daughters, youth and age, and dreams and reality" (Kirkus Reviews)
Upon her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s, Ernaux embarks on a daunting journey back through time, as she seeks to "capture the real woman, the one who existed independently from me, born on the outskirts of a small Normandy town, and who died in the geriatric ward of a hospital in the suburbs of Paris."
She explores the bond between mother and daughter, tenuous and unshakable at once, the alienating worlds that separate them, and the inescapable truth that we must lose the ones we love. In this quietly powerful tribute, Ernaux attempts to do her mother the greatest justice she can: to portray her as the individual she was. She writes, "I believe I am writing about my mother because it is my turn to bring her into the world."
[...] J'ai conscience de publier ce journal en raison d'une sorte de prescription intérieure, sans souci de ce que lui, S., éprouvera. À bon droit, il pourra estimer qu'il s'agit d'un abus de pouvoir littéraire, voire d'une trahison. Je conçois qu'il se défende par le rire ou le mépris, "je ne la voyais que pour tirer mon coup". Je préférerais qu'il accepte, même s'il ne le comprend pas, d'avoir été durant des mois, à son insu, ce principe, merveilleux et terrifiant, de désir, de mort et d'écriture."
A New York Times Notable Book
Annie Ernaux's father died exactly two months after she passed her practical examination for a teaching certificate. Barely educated and valued since childhood strictly for his labor, Ernaux's father had grown into a hard, practical man who showed his family little affection.
Narrating his slow ascent towards material comfort, Ernaux's cold observation reveals the shame that haunted her father throughout his life. She scrutinizes the importance he attributed to manners and language that came so unnaturally to him as he struggled to provide for his family with a grocery store and cafe in rural France.
Over the course of the book, Ernaux grows up to become the uncompromising observer now familiar to the world, while her father matures into old age with a staid appreciation for life as it is and for a daughter he cautiously, even reluctantly admires. A Man's Place is the companion book to her critically acclaimed memoir about her mother, A Woman's Story.
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