The French author of mostly autobiographical work has become the newest Nobel laureate in literature, reports the Guardian.
She has been awarded this year’s prize “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”.
Ernaux, who writes novels about daily life in France as well as non fiction and is one of her country’s most acclaimed authors, had been among the favourites to win the prize.
The Nobel said that they had not yet “been able to reach Annie Ernaux on the phone”, but expected to be able to speak to her soon.
Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel committee, said that in her work, “Ernaux consistently and from different angles, examines a life marked by strong disparities regarding gender, language and class”.
Ernaux was born in 1940 and grew up in the small town of Yvetot in Normandy. She studied at Rouen University, and later taught at secondary school. From 1977 to 2000, she was a professor at the Centre National d’Enseignement par Correspondance. Olsson said her “path to authorship was long and arduous”.
Her debut was Les armoires vides, published in 1974 in France and as Cleaned Out in English in 1990. It was her fourth book, La place or A Man’s Place, that was her literary breakthrough.
A Man’s Place and A Woman’s Story, which was originally published in 1988 in French, have become contemporary classics in France. Ernaux won the Prix Renaudot in France in 2008 for her autobiography The Years, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2019 when it was translated into English by Alison L Strayer.