Annie Ernaux, French author, wins Nobel Prize in literature

The French author Annie Ernaux has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the organizers announced on Thursday in Stockholm.

Ernaux, 82, has written a number of famous novels, many of which are autobiographical. Her first book “Les armoires vides” was published in French in 1974 and in English as “Cleaned Out” in 1990. She rose to prominence.

She received the prestigious award “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, alienations and collective shackles of personal memory”.

Ernaux’s work is heavily inspired by her own life and communicates about family, class, politics and gender.

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“Your work is uncompromising and written in clear language, scratched clean,” said Anders Olsson of the Swedish Academy on Thursday when announcing her award.

“And when, with great courage and clinical acuity, she reveals the agony of the class experience by describing shame, humiliation, jealousy or inability to be who one is, she has achieved something admirable and enduring,” Olsson added.

Ernaux was born in 1940 in a rural village in Normandy, northern France, to parents who owned a shop and café. Her upbringing plays a large role in her novels, as does her experience of dealing with adolescence and adulthood.

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The academy said they were not able to contact Ernaux before announcing their win but hoped they would hear of their performance soon.

Organizers told reporters Thursday that they focused on literary quality rather than sending a message to the world when selecting the award. But Ernaux’s win sheds light on her writing on abortion, months after the US Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade fell.

Her novel Happening describes her experience of having a dangerous backyard abortion in 1963, when the procedure was illegal in France.

“There were thousands who had undergone clandestine abortions, I wanted to tell the truth exactly as it was at the moment and purge myself of any knowledge of the struggle for women’s rights that would follow,” the author told dem in 2019 Guardian “Because in 1963, 1964, when it happened to me, it was unthinkable to imagine that one day abortion would be approved, doctors wouldn’t even say the word.”
The Nobel Prizes were awarded throughout the week, with the scientific awards being announced Monday through Wednesday. The winner of the Peace Prize will be presented on Friday.

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