Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Annie Ernaux: live updates

The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded Thursday to Annie Ernaux, the French novelist whose intensely personal books have touched generations of women by highlighting incidents from her own life, including a back-alley abortion in the 1960s and a passionate extramarital affair.

Mats Malm, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which decides the award, announced the decision at a press conference in Stockholm, praising the “courage and clinical acumen with which he uncovers the collective roots, distances and restrictions of the personal memory”.

The committee had not been able to reach Ernaux by phone, Malm said, but hoped she would “get the news soon.” They intended to present the award to him on December 10.

Ernaux, 82, becomes the 17th female writer to win the prize, widely considered the most prestigious prize in world literature, since it was formed in 1901. She is the second woman to receive the prize in three years after Louise Gluck. she who was received the 2020 award for writing “that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”

Ernaux’s books include her debut, “Cleaned Out,” an invigorating account of her working-class youth, including abortion, carried out when the procedure was still illegal in France, and “A Simple Passion,” a bestseller. in France about Ernaux’s abortion. affair with a married foreign diplomat.

Outside of France, she is perhaps best known for “The Years,” which weaves together events from more than 70 years of Ernaux’s life with French history. In 2019, “The Years” was shortlisted for the International Booker Prizea major British prize for fiction translated into English.

“This is an autobiography unlike any other you have ever read,” said Edmund White. in a review of that book for The New York Times.

His works have long been praised by critics. Ernaux’s autobiographical novels defy “the demands of the genre on her: the desire for melodramatic intimate revelation and the smoothness of fictional storytelling,” wrote Claire Messud. in The Times in 1998. The books, on the other hand, “offer a searing authenticity and reveal the slipperiness of much of what we call memories.”

On Thursday, some of France’s highest-profile female politicians were among those who celebrated the news. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said On twitter that Ernaux’s books had “lifted the veil on women’s privacy with great modesty, but without embellishments.”

Ernaux first tried writing in college, but publishers rejected his book as “too ambitious.” he told The Times in 2020. She did not return to writing until she was 30, when she was married, the mother of two children, and working as a French teacher.

She wrote “Cleansed” in secret. “My husband had made fun of me after my first manuscript,” Ernaux said. “I pretended to work on a Ph.D. thesis to have time alone.” After the book was published, her husband reacted badly again. “He told me: if you are capable of writing a book in secret, then you are capable of deceiving me,” Ernaux said. Soon, she was writing about her unhappy marriage.

Later books detailed her mother’s Alzheimer’s and Ernaux’s cancer experience, as well as happier events, such as their affairs.

Jacques Testard of Fitzcarraldo Editions, its British publisher, said in a telephone interview that he was “shocked, to be honest” by the news. He described Ernaux as “an exceptional and unique writer” who for decades has chronicled what it is like to be a woman in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her books are socially and politically relevant inside and outside of France due to events like the United States Supreme Court. recent annulment of Roe v. Wadehe added.

Audrey Diwan, the French film director who adapted Ernaux’s 2000 novel “Happening,” about a 23-year-old woman’s illegal abortion, in an acclaimed film, said in a telephone interview that his writing had a “raw sincerity” that “speaks to so many and becomes a ‘we,’ a collective voice across borders.” The award “puts a well-deserved spotlight on an immense body of work,” she added.

Ernaux has long been one of the favorites for the award, although before Thursday’s announcement, Salman Rushdie was expected to take the accolade. Rushdie, the Booker Prize-winning author of “children of midnight”, was stabbed in August on a stage in western New York in what prosecutors said was a premeditated attack.

The Nobel Prize, which is awarded for a writer’s complete work, is considered the highest prize in world literature, and previous winners include Tony MorrisonJ. M. Coetzee and even bob dylan. It comes with a prize of 10 million Swedish kronor, or about $911,000.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, has tried in recent years to increase the diversity of authors considered for the award, after facing criticism that before today’s announcement, 95 of the last 118 Nobel laureates had been European or North American. , and only 16 women. last year’s award went to Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tanzanian-born author whose novels focus on migration experiences. He was the first black writer to receive the award since Morrison in 1993and the first African to win in over a decade.

Anders Olsson, chairman of the academy’s Nobel Committee, defended the choice of another European writer, telling a news conference that there had also been a shortage of female winners in the past and that had to change. “First of all, we try, of course, to broaden the scope of the Nobel Prize,” he said, “but our focus must be on literary quality first and foremost.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *