French author Annie Ernaux was felicitated with the Nobel prize in Literature at Stockholm’s Swedish Academy on Thursday, October 6 “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory."
The 82-year-old Ernaux mostly draws inspiration for her literary work from sociology. She gained prominence for being the prolific writer behind Les années, La place, and A Woman's Story.
Born on September 1, 1940, in the French town of Lillebonne, Ernaux was raised by her parents who made a living by running a small cafe. After getting a degree in teaching and modern literature, Ernaux chose writing as her art and profession, and made her debut with Les Armoires vides, an autobiographical novel, in 1974.
However, it was only a decade later when her magnum opus hit bookstores, creating a whirlwind of fame and critical acclaim. La place, her breakthrough book, offered readers a peek into her personal life, particularly her father. Through the Renaudot Prize-winning book, Ernaux chronicled her turbulent relationship with her father, as well as the fine details of her Parisian life.
According to Ernaux, the art of writing is a political act, and an eye-opening narrative of social oppression and inequality. For her, language is a “knife” that swiftly cuts through the veils of imagination to bring the truth to light.
The French writer is revered in the literary world for pouring her heart out on paper, chronicling every personal event that transpired in her life. From passionate love affairs to losing her mother, Ernaux knows that the best stories come from the tragic realities of contemporary life.