Nobel Prize in Literature 2022

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French novelist Annie Ernaux is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2022. She considers writing as a political act. Her writings reflect on inequalities prevailing in the society. Annie uses language as a “knife” to tear open the harsh realities of life. 

Her intensely personal books discuss incidents from her own life. They portray her journey filled with difficulties and emotional conflicts.

nobel in literature

Annie Ernaux was born on September 1, 1940 at Lillebonne in France. Mats Malm, permanent secretary of the Nobel Committee announced the award at a press conference in Stockholm. On the occasion, the Swedish author praised Annie for her passionate writings. 

The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award in the world of literature. On October 6, 2022, at the age of 82, Annie Ernaux became the 17th female writer to win the coveted award. 

The Nobel Prize in literature was awarded for the first time ever in 1901 to French poet Sully Prudhomme. 

‘A Simple Passion’ and ‘Cleaned Out’ are among the famous works of Annie Ernaux. ‘Cleaned Out’ is a rousing account of her working-class youth. ‘A Simple Passion’ is a romantic book and is a bestseller in France. 

“The Years,” an experimental autobiography, won her international fame. The book is a detailed account of over 70 years of Ernaux’s life, it shares a connection with French history. 

In the year 2019, “The Years” was shortlisted for the esteemed Booker International Prize. It is a prominent British award for fiction translated in English. 

American novelist Edmund White reviewed the book for the New York Times. He said the book was refreshing, White said that it was ‘unlike’ anything he read before. 

Novelist Claire Messud describes Annie’s  works as very moving and authentic.  

The Nobel Laureate believes in the liberating force of writing. Her works are uncompromising. Annie Ernaux writes in simple language. 

Through her writings she vividly captures the emotional turmoil of the working-class people. Her works are raw and real. 

Ernaux started writing during her college days. In 2020, in an interview she said that her books were initially rejected by publishers saying that they were too ambitious. She picked up writing again in her 30s, when she was working as a French teacher. By then she was married and had two kids. 

While writing “Cleaned Out,” her husband was not aware of it. In her illustrious career, she has written about her love affairs, unhappy marriage and her mother’s Alzhiemer’s disease. In some of her writings she has also mentioned about her battle with cancer.

Annie Ernaux rightly deserved the Nobel Prize for her impressive ‘works’ over the years. Toni Morrison, Herta Müller, J.M. Coetzee, and Bob Dylan are among the other legends who had won the award earlier. Being a laureate, she will receive a prize money of 10 Million Swedish Krona (SEK). 

The Swedish Academy who issues the prize seems to have responded well to the criticisms and have increased the diversity of authors considered for the award this year. 95 of the past 118 Nobel Laureates were either European or North American. Tanzanian born Abdulrazak Gurnah was last year’s winner. His novels mainly focussed on ‘migration’. Gurnah was the first black writer to win the prize since Morrison in 1993. He was also the first African to win the prestigious award in more than a decade. 

Much more power to Annie Ernaux!

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