French author Annie Ernaux, 82 , wins Nobel Prize in literature for her ‘uncompromising’ work on class and gender
- Annie Ernaux won for her catalogue of work exploring the lives of women
- The French author is the 16th Nobel laureate from her country
- Ernaux’s books chronicle events in her life and the lives of those around her
The Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to French author Annie Ernaux, for her catalogue of work on female sexuality, society, and the lives of women.
The 82-year-old French author is one of her country’s most acclaimed authors, writing on ‘the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.’
She is the first French laureate since Patrick Modiano in 2014, and the 16th French Nobel laureate.
Annie Ernaux, the newly announced Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature poses for a photograph
Ernaux’s books, most of them very short, chronicle events in her life and the lives of those around her. They present real-life encounters of of sexual encounters, abortion, illness, and the deaths of her parents.
Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel literature committee, said Ernaux’s work was often ‘uncompromising and written in plain language, scraped clean.’
‘She has achieved something admirable and enduring,’ he told reporters after the announcement in Stockholm, Sweden.
Ernaux describes her style as ‘flat writing’ – aiming for an very objective view of the events she is describing, unshaped by overwhelming emotions.
In the book that made her name, ‘La Place’ (A Man’s Place), about her relationship with her father, she writes: ‘No lyrical reminiscences, no triumphant displays of irony. This neutral writing style comes to me naturally.’
Ernaux talks to the media after being announced as the winner of the prize in literature today
Her 2000 novel ‘Happening,’ depicts the consequences of illegal abortion.
Her most critically acclaimed book is ‘The Years’ (Les annees), published in 2008 and describing herself and wider French society from the end of World War II to the present day.
‘A Girl’s Story,’ from 2016, follows a young woman’s coming of age in the 1950s.
Ernaux is just the 17th woman among the 119 Nobel literature laureates. Last year’s winner, Tanzanian-born, U.K.-based writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, was only the sixth Nobel literature laureate born in Africa, and the prize has long faced criticism that it is too focused on European and North American writers, as well as too male-dominated.
‘We try first of all to broaden the scope of the Nobel Prize, but our focus must be on literary quality,’ Olsson said.
The prizes to Gurnah in 2021 and U.S. poet Louise Gluck in 2020 helped the literature prize move on from years of controversy and scandal.
In 2018, the award was postponed after sexual abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, which names the Nobel literature committee, and sparked an exodus of members.
The academy has since revamped itself but faced more criticism for giving the 2019 literature award to Austria’s Peter Handke, who has been called an apologist for Serbian war crimes.
Chairman of the Committee for Literature Anders Olsson and member of the Nobel Prize Committee for Literature Ellen Mattson announced Annie Ernaux as the 2022 laureate
Ernaux won the prize for her catalogue of work on female sexuality and the lives of women
A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.
Three scientists jointly won the prize in physics Tuesday. Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger had shown that tiny particles can retain a connection with each other even when separated, a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, that can be used for specialized computing and to encrypt information.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way of their work on molecules that can target diseases like cancer.
The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Monday.
The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (£850,000), with a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.
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