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Annie Ernaux

at the complete review:

biographical | bibliography | quotes | pros/cons | our opinion | links

Name: Annie ERNAUX
Nationality: French
Born: September 1, 1940
Awards: Prix Renaudot (1984)

 Studied at the University of Rouen

 Has worked as a teacher, and professor (at the Centre National d'Enseignement
par Correspondance)

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Highlighted titles are under review at the complete review
 Cleaned Out - novel, 1974 (Les armoires vides, trans. Carol Sanders, 1990)
 Ce qu'ils disent ou rien - novel, 1977
 A Frozen Woman - novel, 1981 (La femme gelée, trans. Linda Coverdale,
 A Man's Place - novel, 1984 (La place, trans. Tanya Leslie, 1992)
 Une Femme - novel, 1987 (A Woman's Story, trans. Tanya Leslie, 1991)
 Simple Passion - novel, 1991 (Passion simple, trans. Tanya Leslie, 1993)
 Journal du dehors - novel, 1993 (Exteriors, trans. Tanya Leslie, 1996)
 Shame - novel, 1997 (La honte, trans. Tanya Leslie, 1998)
 "I Remain in Darkness" - memoir, 1997 (Je ne suis pas sortie de ma
nuit, trans. Tanya Leslie, 1999)
 L'événement - novel, 2000
 La vie extérieure - novel, 2000

Please note that this bibliography is not necessarily complete.

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What others have to
say about Annie Ernaux:

 "Annie Ernaux is the sort of writer who practices vivisection. With

words, she lays open a life -- not only her own but others' as well:
mother, father, lover, friend. Keen language and unwavering focus
allow her to penetrate deep, to reveal pulses of love, desire,
remorse." - Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review, 28/11/1999

 "Ms. Ernaux (...) has created something of a genre: the emotionally

minimalist, stylistically uninflected chronicles of a hypersensitive
middle-aged woman examining her own life and those of her
parents. Her work represents a severely pared-down Proustianism,
a testament to the persistent, haunting and melancholy quality of
memory." - Richard Bernstein, The New York Times, 22/11/1999

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Pros and Cons

of the author's work:
 Writing is direct and (often unflinchingly) honest
 Interesting (and piercing) point of view
 Does some things -- confusion of childhood, discovery of sexuality
-- exceptionally well
 Her books are short, powerful reads
 Accessible to an English-speaking audience (and most of her
writing is available in translation)

 Familiar subjects covered again and again (her parents and her
childhood in particular)
 Often little analysis or even reflection -- facts are merely presented
 Autobiographical focus of all the books

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the complete review's Opinion

Annie Ernaux's slim volumes are powerful little reads. They are short
fictions, based in her life, most only a hundred pages or so in length.
Similar territory is revisited and reexamined from book to book as she
tries to come to terms with her childhood, her parents, her love affairs, and
still she manages to create something new each time. Ernaux's self-
reflection is surprisingly detached, a change from the usual obsessive
autobiographical first-person fictions. The public display might make
some uneasy, but the books hold great fascination.
Ernaux writes simply, clearly, to the point. There is no great
embellishment. In style and form she sticks to basics -- and still manages
to achieve a certain poetry.
It is an interesting life she has led: shopkeeper's daughter, a gifted
student that escaped her working-class background through academic
success (a difficult transition that continues to haunt and colour her life at
every stage), teacher. With each book a new facet is revealed. Many of the
significant stages in her life have been starkly revealed, neither dressed up
nor self-pityingly played up. Ernaux admits to vulnerability and weakness.
She is human and believable.
Each next chapter is eagerly awaited.

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Annie Ernaux:

 Annie Ernaux page at Women Writers Home Page. Some links.

 Some biographical information.

Annie Ernaux's Books at the complete review

 Cleaned Out (A-)

 A Frozen Woman (A-)
 "I Remain in Darkness" (B-)
 A Man's Place (A-)
 Shame (B+)
 Simple Passion (A-)

See also:

 Index of other Author Pages at the complete review

 Index of French literature at the complete review

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