French writer Annie Ernaux receives Nobel Prize for literature


Stockholm: French writer Annie Ernaux was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature for “the courage and clinical acumen with which she exposes the roots, alienations and collective limitations of personal memory,” the Swedish Academy said Thursday.

Ernaux, 82, began writing autobiographical novels but soon abandoned fiction in favor of memoirs. Her more than 20 books, most of them very short, chronicle events in her life and the lives of those around her. They bring uncompromising portraits of sexual encounters, abortion, illness and the death of her parents.

Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee on Literature, said Ernaux’s work was often “uncompromised and written in plain language, swept clean.” “She has accomplished something admirable and lasting,” he told reporters after the announcement in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ernaux describes her style as ‘ecriture plate’, a very objective view of the events she describes, unformed by flowery description or 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 memories, no triumphant displays of irony. This neutral writing style comes naturally to me.”

Her most acclaimed book was “The Years” (Les annes), published in 2008, describing herself and wider French society from the end of World War II to the present day. Unlike previous books, in “The Years” Ernaux writes about herself in the third person, calling her character “she” instead of “I”. The book has received numerous awards and accolades.

Last year’s award went to Tanzanian-born, UK-based writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose novels explore the impact of migration on individuals and societies. Gurnah was only the sixth Nobel laureate in literature to be born in Africa, and the prize has long been criticized for being too focused on European and North American writers. It is also dominated by men, with only 16 women among the 118 laureates.

The prizes for Gurnah in 2021 and the American poet Louise Glück in 2020 helped the literature prize after years of controversy and scandal. In 2018, the award was postponed after allegations of sexual abuse rocked the Swedish Academy, which appoints the Nobel Prize Commission for Literature, leading to an exodus of members. The academy revamped itself, but came under more criticism for awarding the 2019 literature prize to Austria’s Peter Handke, who has been called an apologist for Serbian war crimes.

A week of Nobel Prize announcements began Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the prize in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided important insights into our immune system.

Three scientists together won the prize in physics on Tuesday. The Frenchman Alain Aspect, the American John F. Clauser and the Austrian Anton Zeilinger had shown that small particles can maintain a connection with each other even when separated, a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, which can be used for specialized computers and to encode information.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way to “click molecules together” that can be used to investigate cells, DNA map and design drugs that target diseases such as cancer more accurately.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 will be announced on Friday and the economics prize on Monday.

The prizes include a cash prize of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be awarded on December 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the creator of the prize, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.





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