Annie Ernaux, a French author, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2022. The author, who is 82 years old, is well-known for writings that straddle the realms of autobiography and fiction.
The committee cited her “clinical acuity” in announcing the announcement, saying that she “uncovers the roots, estrangements, and collective restraints of personal memory.”
The permanent secretary mentioned during his statement that they had been unable to contact Ernaux to inform her of the prize, which is valued at around $900,000.
When Ernaux was a baby, he was born in France in the year 1940. Published in 1974, Cleaned Out was an autobiographical novel about the author’s experience of getting an abortion at a time when it was illegal in France.
She hid her writing in the book. “My husband had made fun of me after my first manuscript,” she revealed to the New York Times 2020. To have some peace and quiet, I made believe I was working on my doctorate. In 1990, the book was adapted for American readers.
Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel committee for literature, was questioned at the press conference if there was any political emotion behind awarding the prize to someone who has written so personally about abortion. Olsson rejected this, stating that the committee’s primary concern is the quality of the writing.
In any case, “We place a premium on the laureate’s work having global significance. It is accessible to everyone.” Many critics considered Ernaux’s The Years to be her defining statement after she spent decades digging into her own background in a variety of works.
The Years, her debut novel, delves deeply into the culture that gave birth to her. Although Ernaux’s memoir covers her life from 1940 to 2006, she never once uses the first-person pronoun “I,” opting instead for the more inclusive “we” or, on sometimes, “she.”
Azarin Sadegh, writing for the LA Review of Books in 2018, described reading the English version of The Years as going through old family photos. Broken shapes and forms with holes all over them are how the visions of the past appear to the reader, Sadegh argues.
“As you peruse this trove of documents and photographs, you are transported to another time. The years have passed, and all except the most vivid photographs and fragmentary recollections of past experiences are now lost.”
Her novel, A Girl’s Story, was published in the English language in 2020. She uncovered her shameful sexual experiences from when she was a teenager, revealing them to the world during the dawn of the sexual revolution.
Look at the Lights, My Love, another novel by Erneaux, will be published in English in 2023. The book’s summary describes it as a “meditation on the phenomenon of the big-box superstore.” Naturally, via the filter of Ernaux’s recollection.