French writer Annie Ernaux wins the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature – Books

Tassilo Hummel and Simon Johnson (Reuters)

Stockholm, Sweden ●
Thu, October 6, 2022

2022-10-06
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Nobel Prize in Literature, France, Me-Too, Sweden, Annie-Ernaux
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French author Annie Ernaux won the 2022 Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday for “the courage and clinical acumen” of her largely autobiographical books examining personal memory and social inequality.

In explaining his choice, the Swedish Academy says Ernaux, 82, “examines cohesively and from different angles a life marked by stark disparities in gender, language and class.”

The first Frenchwoman to win the literature prize, Ernaux said winning was “a responsibility”.

“I was very surprised… I never thought it would be in my landscape as a writer,” Ernaux told the Swedish channel. SVT. “It’s a great responsibility…to bear witness, not necessarily to the level of my writing, but to bear witness accurately and justly to the world.”

She has already said that writing is a political act, opening our eyes to social inequalities. “And to that end, she uses language as ‘a knife,’ as she calls it, to tear the veils of the imagination,” the academy said.

Her first novel was ‘Les Armoires Vides’ in 1974 but she gained international recognition following the publication of Years in 2008, translated into “The Years in 2017”.

“It is his most ambitious project, which has earned him an international reputation and a host of literary followers and disciples,” the academy said of this book.

Born into a modest family of grocers from Normandy in northern France, Ernaux wrote about class and how it struggled to adopt the codes and habits of the French bourgeoisie while remaining true to its working-class background.

An adaptation of Ernaux’s 2000 novel “Happening,” about his experiences with abortion when it was still illegal in France in the 1960s, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2021.

The academy said her “clinically restrained account” of the illegal abortion of a 23-year-old narrator in the book remains a masterpiece among her works.

“It is a text of ruthless honesty, where she parenthetically adds reflections in a vitally lucid voice, addressing herself and the reader in one and the same flow,” the academy said.

Former French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot wrote on Twitter that Ernaux was “a writer who placed the autobiographical mode in her cold analytical analysis at the heart of her career. One may disagree with her political options but we must salute a powerful and moving work”.

The prizes for achievement in science, literature and peace were created in the will of Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel, whose invention of dynamite made him rich and famous, and are awarded since 1901.

The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($915,000).

While many previous literature winners were already widely read before winning the prize, the prize generates enormous media attention and can propel lesser-known authors to global fame while boosting book sales, even for literary superstars.

Some prizes have been awarded to writers outside of traditional literary genres, including French philosopher Henri Bergson in 1927, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1953 and American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in 2016.

Accurately predicting the winner of the literature prize is educated guesswork at best and the favorites to win this year’s prize included a series of authors considered to be in the running for years.

Among bookmakers’ favorites for this year’s award were French writer Michel Houellebecq, who rose to international fame with his 1998 novel Atomised, Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Canadian poet Anne Carson and Indian Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie was stabbed in New York State in August as he prepared to give a talk, sustaining serious injuries.

Last year’s award, widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious literary prize, was won by Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah.


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