Annie Ernaux, has just received the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the first time that the award has been given to a French novelist.

Annie Ernaux

A major figure of literature

Annie Ernaux, one of the major figures of the contemporary literary scene, received the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, October 6. The 82-year-old writer is rewarded for « the courage and clinical acuity with which she discovers the roots, the distances and the collective constraints of personal memory », explained the Nobel jury. Annie Ernaux is the 17th woman who has won this prestigious award since 1901. But this is the first time that it has been awarded to a French novelist, the 15 previous tricolor winners being men. The latest was Patrick Modiano, in 2014.

A work of socilology

Coming from a modest family background in Normandy, Annie Ernaux, born Annie Duchesne, entered literature in 1974 with Les Armoires Vides, an autobiographical novel. She describes the two incompatible worlds in which she evolves during her adolescence. On the one hand, the ignorance, the filth, the vulgarity of the drunken customers, the petty little habits of his grocer parents. On the other « the ease, the lightness of the girls of the free school » from the petty bourgeoisie. Annie Ernaux drew the material for her books from her own life, building stone by stone a literary work while testifying to her class of origin, the shame attached to it, her desire for extraction, and all the feelings that accompany social ascent, thus making a work of sociology.

Adapted for the cinema by Audrey Diwan

Ten years later, she won the Renaudot for La Place. We also owe Annie Ernaux Les Années, L’autre fille or Passion Simple adapted for the cinema by Danielle Arbid in 2020 and L’Événement, the story of a clandestine abortion which will become the eponymous film by Audrey Diwan, Golden Lion in Venice in 2021. Annie Ernaux has taken up the story of her memories with dozens of family films shot by her former husband for « The Super 8 Years », presented at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes. In the other Nobel Prize categories, the French quantum physicists Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless and Dane Morten Meldal. The Nobel Peace Prize and Economics Prize announcements are scheduled for Friday and next Monday, respectively.

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