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Annie Ernaux Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Cleaned Out (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Do What They Say or Else (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Possession (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

A Frozen Woman (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Man's Place (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Woman's Story (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Simple Passion (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Positions (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Exteriors (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Passion Perfect (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
I Remain in Darkness (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shame (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Happening (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Years (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Things Seen (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Girl's Story (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Getting Lost (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Look at the Lights, My Love (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Young Man (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon
I Will Write to Avenge My People (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Annie Ernaux
Annie Ernaux was born September 1, 1940 in Lillebonne in Normandy, France and grew up in nearby Yvetot, where her parents Alphonse and Blanche (Dumenil) Duchesne, ran this grocery and cafe in a working class part of town.

In 1960, she traveled to London, where she worked as an au pair, which is an experience that she would later relate in “A Girl’s Story”, in 2016. Upon returning to France, she studied at the universities of Rouen and later Bordeaux, qualified as a schoolteacher, and she earned a higher degree in modern literature in 1971. Annie worked for a time on a thesis project, which went unfinished, on Pierre de Marivaux.

During the early 70s, she taught at a lcyee in Bonneville, Haute-Savoie, at the college of Evire in Annecy-le-Vieux, then in Pontoise, before she joined the National Centre for Distance Education, where she was employed for 23 years.

Annie began her literary career in 1974 with “Cleaned Out”, an autobiographical novel. In 1984, she won the Renaudot Prize for “A Man’s Place”, another of her works that is an autobiographical narrative that focuses on her relationship with her dad and her experiences growing up in a small town in France, and her subsequent process of stepping into adulthood and away from her parents’ place of origin.

Early on in her career, she turned away from fiction in order to focus on autobiography. Her work combines individual and historic experiences. Annie charts her parents’ social progression, her teen years, her passionate affair with an Eastern European man, her marriage, her abortion, Alzheimer’s disease, her mom’s death, and breast cancer. She also wrote “Writing as Sharp as a Knife”, with Frederic-Yves Jeannet.

“The Years”, translated by Alison L. Strayer, was nominated for the International Booker Prize in 2019, was a finalist for the 31st Annual French-American Foundation Translation Prize, and won the 2019 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. The book also won the Marguerite Duras Prize in 2008, the 2008 Prix Francois-Mauriac de la region Aquitaine, the 2016 Strega European Prize, the Prix de la langue francaise, the 2009 Telegramme Readers Prize.

Her popularity in Anglophone countries increased rather sharply after “The Years” was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize.

Annie was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature for the clinical acuity and bravery with which she uncovers the roots, collective restraints, and estrangements of personal memory. She is the 16th French writer, and first Frenchwoman to get the literature prize.

“The Possession” was listed as a Top Ten Book of 2008 by More Magazine. “A Woman’s Story”, “A Man’s Place”, and “Simple Passion” were each recognized as The New York Times Notable Books, and “A Woman’s Story” was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

“A Frozen Woman” is a non-fiction book that was released in 1981. This book charts Annie’s teen awakening, and then the parallel progression of her desires to be desirable and her ambition to fulfill herself in her chosen profession, with the inevitable conflict between the two.

Then she’s 30 years old, a teacher married to an executive, and the mom of two infant sons. She looks after their nice apartment, raises her kids. Yet, like millions of other women, she has felt her curiosity and enthusiasm, her happiness and her strength, slowly ebb under the weight of her daily routine. The very condition which everybody around her seems to consider admirable and normal for a woman is killing her.

While each of Annie’s books contain an autobiographical element, this one, one of her early books, concentrates the spotlight on Annie herself. Mixing rage, affection, and bitterness, this shows the reader her developing art when she still relied on traditional narrative, before the shortened form emerged which has become her trademark ever since.

“A Woman’s Story” is a non-fiction book that was released in 1990. Annie, upon her mom’s death from Alzheimer’s, embarks on a daunting journey back through time, while she seeks to capture the real woman, the one that existed independently from Annie, born on the outskirts of a tiny Normandy town, and died in the geriatric ward of a hospital in the suburbs of Paris.

Annie explores the bond between daughter and mom, unshakable and tenuous at the same time, the alienating worlds which separate them, and the inescapable truth which we have to lose the ones we love. Annie, in this quietly powerful tribute, attempts to do her mom the greatest justice that she can: to depict her as the individual that she was.

“Look at the Lights, My Love” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2023. For half a century, Annie Ernaux has transgressed the boundaries of what stories are considered to be worth telling, what subjects are worth exploring. In this probing meditation, she turns her attention to the phenomenon of the big-box superstore, this ubiquitous feature of modern life which has received very little attention in literature.

Annie, while recording her visits to a store close to Paris for almost a year, she captures the world which exists inside of its massive walls. Through her eyes, the superstore starts to emerge as this great human meeting place and a spectacle. This technologically advanced and flashy incarnation of the ancient marketplace where capitalism, class, and cultural production all converge, dictating our rhythms of desire.

With Annie’s relentless powers of observation, she takes the measure of a place that we believed we knew, calling us to question the experiences that we overlook and to gaze more deeply into ordinary life.

“The Years” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2008. Considered by many to be this iconic French memoirist’s defining work, this book is a narrative about the period from 1941 to 2006 which is told through the lens of memory, impressions both present and past, cultural language, habits, television, radio, pictures, books, songs, advertising, and news headlines.

Annie invents this form which is impersonal and subjective, communal and private, and is a new genre (the collective biography) in order to capture time’s passing. At the confluence of sociology and auto-fiction, this is a Remembrance of Things Past for our age of consumerism and media domination, and is a monumental account of twentieth century French history as refracted through one woman’s life.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Annie Ernaux

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