Nobel Prize in literature goes to French author Annie Ernaux

Annie Ernaux has said that writing is a political act, opening our eyes for social inequality

October 06, 2022 04:31 pm | Updated October 10, 2022 03:46 pm IST

French writer Annie Ernaux. File

French writer Annie Ernaux. File | Photo Credit: AFP

The winner of the Nobel Prize in literature for 2022 is French author Annie Ernaux, announced Thursday at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm.

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to the French author Annie Ernaux “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.” Ms. Ernaux believes in the liberating force of writing. Her work is uncompromising and written in plain language, scraped clean, the academy said.

Ms. Ernaux has said that writing is a political act, opening our eyes for social inequality. For this purpose she uses language as “a knife”, as she calls it, to tear apart the veils of imagination.

In ‘L’occupation’ (2002), Ms. Ernaux dissects the social mythology of romantic love. On the basis of notes in a diary recording her abandonment by a lover, she both confesses and attacks a self-image built on stereotypes. Writing becomes a sharp weapon dissecting truth.

In her writing, Ms. Ernaux consistently and from different angles, examines a life marked by strong disparities regarding gender, language and class. She has written over thirty literary works.

Ms. Ernaux, was born in 1940 and grew up in the small town of Yvetot in Normandy, where her parents had a combined grocery store and café. Her path to authorship was long and arduous, the academy said.

Last year's prize went to the Tanzanian-born, UK-based writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose novels explore the impact of migration on individuals and societies.

Also read: Economic Sciences Nobel for trio’s research on banks and financial crises

Mr. 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.

In 2018, the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, which names the Nobel literature committee, and sparked an exodus of members. The academy 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.

The Nobel Prize announcements kicked off on 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.

Also Read | Nobel season is here: 5 things to know about the prizes

Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger jointly won the prize in physics Tuesday for their research on quantum entanglement, that can be used for specialised computing and to encrypt 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 of “snapping molecules together” that can be used to explore cells, map DNA and design drugs that can target diseases such as cancer more precisely.

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 (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.

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