Announcement: The Nobel Prize in Literature for Annie Erno

Nominated as a nominee for years: Ernaux, born in Normandy in 1940, coined the term Autofictionality with her project to measure her origins and life in a series of novels, which she’s been following for decades.

The Swedish Academy, which is responsible for the prestigious award, announced the selection on Thursday in Stockholm’s Old Town. In announcing the award, the Academy’s permanent secretary, Mats Malm, said Erno received the award “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she has discovered the roots, alienation and collective limitations of personal memory.” Malm says it was not yet possible to contact her over the phone.

A decision to innovate in the literary

The decision was made in favor of an author whose rank and innovative power are indisputable for contemporary literature. Biographical writing, especially by female writers, has had a hard time for a long time within the academic world and with criticism, no matter how many copies are printed.

APA / AFP / Pierre Guillod

Erno at the release of “La Place” 1983

Erno eliminated this arrogance on his own, albeit quietly at first. When she began writing under Alain Robb-Grett, Michel Buteur, and Claude Simon, she longed for clarity, frankness, and simplicity. In the film “Der Platz” (“La Place”), she performed second to none in the middle of 1983.

In it, starting with the anniversary of her father’s death, she dissects her petty-bourgeois origins, retroactively skipping over the social “place” that was allotted to her by birth, and what opportunities she had as a result had or remained closed to her . “The principle of the novel has always been strange to me,” said Erno, referring back to Der Platz, and added, “Reality is an extraordinary realm and life is such an immense magnitude in the end.”

“Anthropology itself”

In the narration, Erno also thinks about the limits of memory – hence the part of the narrative that is necessarily full of imagination. It is precisely this duality that is new and influential in her writing – and separates her autobiographical novels from the classic autobiographical approaches. Because of this approach, Erno also describes herself as her “own ethnologist” – and reading her work has already provided motivation. Didier Eribon, also famous in German-speaking countries with his childhood social description, “Back to Reims,” ​​often cites Erno as an inspiration.

Katja Jacir (ORF) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Annie Erno. Katja Jacir analyzes the meaning of this decision.

Ernault has continually expanded her approach since the 1970s: in novels such as “Shame”, “Diary of a Girl” and “The Years” – which were explicitly recognized as the “first collective autobiography” when the Nobel Prize was announced and on a technical level to Marcel Proust She deals with aspects of her life and the lives of her family members.

Through “A woman” (“Une femme”, 1987) Ernaux wrote a requiem for her mother, which enabled her to study literature, in “La honete” (“La honete”, 1997) she reconstructs the sometimes violent mother using the image of her parents’ relationship and her youth, in The Other Girl (L’autre fille, 2011), told how, in a conversation between her mother in 1950, she discovered that she had a sister who had died before she was born.

“Memoirs of a Girl” (Memoire de fille, 2016) meticulously traced her first sexual encounter—and spoke of strength, powerlessness, and submission. Already “The Years” (“Les annees”, 2008) reads like the sum of her work – an exploration of her life from post-war childhood through her studies, her turbulent marriage and motherhood to old age in the 1990s, which at the same time opens up a vast panorama presented by the French company. Erno’s novels are a deep dig into one’s life, and open to general conclusions.

Her meticulous and poetic analyzes of gender and class relations are increasingly translated around the world, striking a chord with the present, as demonstrated in the film adaptation of Audrey Dewan’s miscarriage, L’evenement, at the Film Festival. In Venice last year.

Troubles in previous years

In previous years, there has been severe upheaval about the award: in 2019 the Peter Handek award was discussed in a highly controversial manner, and in 2018 the jury suspended the award after there was a major sexual assault scandal over a member of the jury. The 2018 prize was awarded only in 2019 to Olga Tokarczuk.

The prize, awarded in ten million Swedish kronor (about 920,000 euros), will be presented alongside the other Nobel Prizes on December 10. The date is set as the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Due to the pandemic, the prize will be presented again in the prize winners’ home countries and not at a ceremony in Stockholm.

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