Annie Ernaux is the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature

This story has been updated.

French author Annie Ernaux has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy announced on Thursday.

The Swedish Academy said it awarded the prize to Ernaux “for the courage and clinical acumen with which she discovers the roots, the remoteness and the collective constraints of personal memory”. In its press release, the Academy noted that it had not yet been able to reach Ernaux. She later told Swedish television SVT that winning the Nobel Prize was a “great honor” and “a very great responsibility”, according to the Associated Press.

Ernaux’s work frequently deals with questions of personal history. Her memoir “The Happening” is about an illegal abortion she had in the 1960s. A 2018 translation of her memoir “The Years” was pre-selected for the Booker Prize. A translation of Ernaux’s “Getting Lost”, a diary of her affair with a young married man, was published earlier this year.

Ernaux was born in 1940 in Normandy, daughter of working-class parents. She published her first book, “Cleaned Out”, a fictionalized account of her abortion, in 1974. She has two sons and lives in Cergy, in the northwestern suburbs of Paris. She has already won several French-language literary prizes, including the Prix Renaudot.

In 1996, author Linda Barrett Osborne wrote“The work of Annie Ernaux can evoke the same response as some modern art in viewers: a tendency to think that, because it appears simple or direct in its composition, it was simple to conceive, that anyone could create the same forms and impressions. Instead, at his best, Ernaux has the ability to refine the ordinary experience, stripping it of all relevance and digression and reducing it to a sort of iconography of the soul of the late 20th century.

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In “I Remain in the Darkness”, Ernaux chronicled his mother’s decline from Alzheimer’s disease. Released in English in 2000, and translated by Tanya Leslie, the book “brilliantly details, with all the unconscious acuity of the real presence, the miseries and the interdependencies, the frustration and the boredom, the toxic mixture of devotion and revulsion that has characterized so many of us for so long the long process of losing an elderly parent,” according to an opinion in the Washington Post.

Yale University Press is expected to publish a translation of Ernaux’s “Look at the Lights, My Love” in the fall of 2023. John Donatich, director of Yale University Press, said in a statement: “As a great admirer of the extraordinary work by Annie Ernaux, it is a particular pleasure for me to see her receive this worldwide recognition. Her visionary non-fiction is a profound achievement, and it richly deserves the wide readership that this award will attract. These many new readers are about to to make a marvelous discovery.

Ernaux’s work has also been adapted for the cinema. An adaptation of “The Happening,” directed by Audrey Diwan, received the 2021 Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, and “Simple Passion” 2020 was a Cannes Film Festival selection. Ernaux is also a filmmaker. “Les Super 8 ans” is a 60-minute film that she made with her son David Ernaux-Briot made up of old amateur films. She will present the film at the New York Film Festival next week.

The New Republic recently describe Ernaux as “a perennial favourite” for the Nobel Prize “who never quite crosses the line”, but suggested that by selecting her, the Academy could “make a statement of principle on reproductive rights”, in particular given his work in “The Happening”. In response to a question from the audience about whether the choice was political, Ellen Mattson, an Academy representative, said, “We focus on literature and literary quality,” before adding: “The message is that this is literature for everyone.”

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually by the 18-member Swedish Academy. It generally recognizes an author’s body of work, although the academy has singled out the individual works of winners. nine times. This year, the prize is worth approximately $913,000.

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Nominations for the Literature Prize, which are kept secret for 50 years, can be submitted by members of the academy and its counterpart institutions, professors of literature and linguistics, former laureates and presidents of national literary societies. A small committee narrowed this list twice, ultimately providing the Academy with a list of five possible candidates each year. After reviewing and discussing the work of the nominees on this list, the Academy selects a winner in October.

Last year, Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Tanzanian-born novelist who writes primarily in English, won the award. It was granted “for his uncompromising and compassionate insight into the effects of colonialism and the plight of the refugee in the chasm between cultures and continents.”

In response to a question from the audience at the 2022 announcement about the general focus of the Nobel Prize on European writers, Mattson said, “We have many different criteria, and you can’t meet them all.” Stressing again that literary quality was most important to the committee, he continued: “One year we awarded the prize to a non-European writer, last year, Abdulrazak Gurnah. This year, we are giving the award to a woman. Ernaux is the 17th woman to win the award.

The 2022 awards ceremony will take place on December 10 in Stockholm.

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