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The 2022 Nobel Prize Recipient: Annie Ernaux

The Nobel Prize for Literature, one of the most prestigious awards for the category, was announced on October 3rd. French author Annie Ernaux, 82, was named the recipient. The academy stated that she deserved the award as a result of “the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.”

She’s also spoken on political discourse, including topics such as abortion, and emphasized the importance of making everyones voice heard. She wrote, “I shall carry out an ethnological study of myself,“ in her book Shame. In order to understand Ernaux and her work, it is crucial to first discuss her life. What was the life of Annie Ernaux prior to winning the Nobel Prize and where is she now? Let’s take a look at the intriguing life story of Annie Ernaux.

Annie Ernaux was born in 1940 in Lillebonne, Normandy. She and her family were a part of the working class, running a cafe and grocery shop in the small town. She went to a Catholic secondary school where she was bullied for a large portion of her academic career as a result of her social class. In 1958, when she was eighteen years old, she left her hometown to look after children at a summer camp. Two years later, initially heading off to London in hopes of becoming a primary school teacher, she started to pursue a degree in literature instead. She then became a secondary teacher, teaching French. In 1974, she published her first book titled Cleaned Out in which she wrote about how she got an illegal abortion in 1964 and how she become a middle class citizen through education.

Later on, she left being a teacher and took up a post-graduate degree at Cned, Center for Distance Education. She published two more novels in 1977 and in 1981, Do What They Say or Else and A Frozen Woman before she switched from writing fiction to biographies. She wrote about this transition from fiction to biography in Towards a transpersonal ‘I’:

Thus my transition from fictitious I to real I is not due to a need to lift the mask but related to a new writing project that I define in A Woman’s Story as ‘’something between literature, sociology and history. By this I mean that I seek to make concrete, by using rigorous means, ‘’lived’’ experience, without abandoning what makes the specificity of literature, namely the requirement to write well, the absolute commitment of the subject in the text. İt also means, of course, that I reject belonging to a specific genre, be it novel or even autobiography.

She won the Prix Renaudot for her book ‘A Man’s Place’ that she wrote for her father. She retired from teaching in 2000 and began to focus on her writing career instead. In 2008, she published one of her most highly praised books, ‘The Years’. The book won the Marguerite Duras award, the François Mauriac award and the İnternational Booker Prize.

Annie Ernaux has written more than 20 books, most of which have won awards. She wrote A Man’s Place for her father. In the book, she writes about the struggles of a working class man trying to bring comfort and wealth to his family while trying to deal with the shame of being in the the working class. A Woman’s Story is written for her mom in which she states, “I believe I am writing about my mother because it is my turn to bring her into the world.”

The Years, her most successful book, talks about everything including politics, art, literature, music and relationships. She talks about her own life while also showcasing the history of France. In her books, she also discusses her point of view on history and society. Ernaux thinks that we are rarely able to create our own identities and that we are more followers than leaders. She believes that as life goes on, we as individuals don't have much say in it and even though we try to create our own identities, we are obliged to follow the course of history and leaders.

On the October 3rd, 2022, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature and continues her writing career today. She is now one of the most renown authors in France and continues to reach a bigger audience.

Work Cited:

Nobel Prize in Literature Is Awarded to Annie Ernaux, The New York Times

Accessed: 12 October, 2022

Annie Ernaux

Accessed: 13 October, 2022

Annie Ernaux's Justly Deserved Nobel, The New Yorker

Accessed: 14 October, 2022

Annie Ernaux, Fitzcarraldo Editions

Accessed: 14 October, 2022

Who is Annie Ernaux? 2022 Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature

Accessed: 14 October, 2022

Seven Stories Press

Accessed: 15 October, 2022

Annie Ernaux Biography

Accessed: 15 October, 2022



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