French Writer, Annie Ernaux, Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

French writer Annie Ernaux, has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($900,357).

According to the Nobel Committee, Ernaux, who has written over 20 books, mostly autobiographies and memoirs got the award “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”.

“Annie Ernaux manifestly believes in the liberating force of writing. Her work is uncompromising and written in plain language, scraped clean. And when she with great courage and clinical acuity reveals the agony of the experience of class, describing shame, humiliation, jealousy or inability to see who you are, she has achieved something admirable and enduring,” Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee, said.

Her 2008 historical memoir Les Années (The Years), very well received by French critics, is considered by many to be her magnum opus. In this book, Ernaux writes about herself in the third person for the first time, providing a vivid look at French society just after the Second World War until the early 2000s.

It is the story of a woman and of the evolving society she lived in. The Years won the 2008 Françoise-Mauriac Prize of the Académie française, the 2008 Marguerite Duras Prize, the 2008 French Language Prize, the 2009 Télégramme Readers Prize, and the 2016 Premio Strega Europeo Prize. Translated by Alison L. Strayer, The Years was a Finalist for the 31st Annual French-American Foundation Translation Prize. In 2018 she won the Premio Hemingway. She was nominated for the International Booker Prize in 2019 for that same book

With this prestigious award, Ernaux, whose work combines historic and individual experiences, becomes the 16th French Nobel laureate. The award last went to France when Patrick Modiano clinched it in 2014.

Abdulrazaq Gurnah, the Tanzanian-born British novelist, won the literature prize last year.

He was awarded for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”

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