The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to French author Annie Ernaux for her “uncompromising” 50-year body of work that examines “a life marked by vast discrepancies regarding gender, language, and class.”
The coveted award, which is worth 10 million Swedish kronor (£807,000), is given out by the Swedish Academy.
It was “a huge honor,” she remarked. The 82-year-work, old’s according to the chair of the literature committee, Anders Olsson, is “admirable and enduring.”
She told mostly autobiographical stories that expose “the inconsistencies of social experience” and “explain shame, humiliation, jealousy, or the incapacity to realize who you are” with “bravery and clinical acuity,” according to him.
In France, her works, such as A Woman’s Story and A Man’s Place, are regarded as modern classics.
Ernaux, the first French woman to receive the literary award, told reporters that she felt obligated to “continue the struggle against injustice” as a result of her victory.
According to the AFP news agency, she claimed that while literature could not have an “instant influence,” she nevertheless felt the need to continue the fight for the rights of “women and the oppressed”.
A significant feminist Author
Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, praised Ernaux and referred to her voice as “that of the emancipation of women and the forgotten.”
She is a “rare and remarkable” writer, according to Jacques Testard of Fitzcarraldo Editions, which distributes English translations of her works.
He said, “She’s a very significant working-class writer as well as a very significant feminist writer; I believe both of those themes are very present in her writing.
She “has stood up for herself as a woman, as someone who came from the French working class, unbowed, for decade after decade,” according to Ernaux’s US publisher Dan Simon of Seven Stories Press.
A woman winning the Nobel Prize for Literature is always exciting news, according to Dr. Ruth Cruickshank of Royal Holloway, University of London, who specializes in modern French literature. Since 1901, white French males have won the Nobel Prize two living and thirteen dead.
She looks back on memories of both unusual and relatable life experiences, such as a backstreet abortion, unsuccessful relationships with Russian lovers or men 30 years younger, the passing of her parents, and breast cancer.
Ernaux was born in Normandy in 1940, where she grew up in “poverty but ambition,” according to Olsson.
Her website states that she first felt ashamed of her working-class parents and environment when she interacted with girls from middle-class families. Her parents had a café and a grocery store.
That eventually provided material for her works. Intimate relationships, social disparity, the experience of moving up social classes through education, time, and memory, and the general question of how to write about these life experiences were among the key subjects of her work, according to her official biography.
When her first book was released in 1974, Ernaux was married with two children, a secondary school teacher in France, and a literature student who had previously worked as an au pair in London.
She wrote a fictionalized story of her illegal abortion in 1964, which she concealed from her family, in the book Cleaned Out.
For the book Happening, which she wrote 25 years later, she revisited the trauma and “sifted through her recollections and her journal entries dating from those days.” It was adapted into a movie that took home the top honor at the Venice Film Festival last year.
“Annie Ernaux believes in the liberating power of writing,” continued Olsson. Her writing is straightforward, uncompromising, and bare-bones.
Early in the 1980s, the author got divorced, and in 2000 she gave up teaching to focus only on writing.
The Years, another book by Ernaux, earned the Premio Strega in Italy in 2016 and the Prix Renaudot in France in 2008. A year after that, she was awarded the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her lifetime’s work.
The Years was later included on the Man Booker International Prize shortlist in 2019; the judges praised it as a “genre-bending masterwork.”
“Autobiography is given a new form, at once subjective and impersonal, private and collective,” Booker stated at the time.
Throughout her 20 novels, “she has been devoted to a single task: the excavation of her own life,” The New Yorker stated in 2020.
Since 1901, the Nobel Prizes have recognized excellence in literature, science, peace, and, more recently, economics. Abdulrazak Gurnah, a novelist from Tanzania, received the literary award the previous year.
Other winners have included playwrights Harold Pinter and Eugene O’Neill, as well as novelists Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison, poets Louise Gluck, Pablo Neruda, Joseph Brodsky, and Rabindranath Tagore, and novelists Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison.
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