Today we celebrate Annie Ernaux, who has just won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature. Congratulations Annie!
Annie Ernaux is a French author who writes fiction and memoir, and sometimes a little of both at once. She is known for her autobiographical writing, which is intimate and personal while expertly contextualizing her life within a broader history and society; her written experiences are not just hers, but a part of a larger collective social consciousness. Her writing is both politically important and masterfully visceral and rich.
Annie’s first book is an autobiographical novel entitled Les Armoires Vides (Cleaned Out), which details her experience getting an abortion when it was still illegal in France. It seems timely that she won the prize this year, when the struggles she depicts are sadly very relevant. When asked if there was a political motivation for choosing Annie for the prize this year considering her strong stance on abortion, the chair of the Nobel committee for Literature, Anders Olsson, stated that the committee focuses mainly on literary quality and not political relevance, but also that “it’s very important for us also, that the laureate has universal consequence in her work. That it can reach everyone.”
Another of her early autobiographies, A Girl’s Story, depicts her early sexual encounters and the shame she experienced in a pre-sexual revolution environment. In Les Années (The Years), which is often considered her magnum opus, Annie provides an evocative account of the evolution of French society from post-World War II times to the early 2000s through the lens of one woman’s experience. She depicts herself in the third person and often even uses ‘we’ instead of ‘she’ to further decentralize the narrative.
Annie is revered for her ability to write about both women’s and working class struggles in a way that is vivid and true and that never loses sight of the broader societal issues that put people in these situations.
On October 6th, it was announced that she would be awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”, as stated in the press release.
“for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”
Congratulations Annie, and thank you for all that you’ve done.
© Julia Lasker (10/7/22) Special for FF2 Media®
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
View the Nobel Prize press release.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Annie Ernaux à la 30e Foire du livre de Brive-la-Gaillarde” by Lucas_Destrem is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Bottom photo: Annie Ernaux alla consegna del Premio Strega Europeo 2016 per “Gli anni”, Basilica di Massenzio [foto Elena Vozzi]” by 2cordevocali is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.