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French author Patrick Modiano wins Nobel Literature Prize 2014

Patrick Modiano’s works centre on topics such as memory, oblivion, identity, guilt and the city of Paris where he was born shortly after the end of world war two

Ahram Online, Thursday 9 Oct 2014
Patrick Modiano
Patrick Modiano
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The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2014 is awarded to the French author Patrick Modiano.

“For the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation,” the Nobel committee said.

Patrick Modiano was born on 30 July 1945 in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb of Paris. His father was a businessman and his mother an actress.

Having left school, he studied at Lycée Henri-IV in Paris, where his teacher in geometry was Raymond Queneau, a writer who was to play a decisive role for his development.

In 1968, Modiano made his debut as a writer with La place de l’étoile, a novel that attracted much attention.

According to the Academy's press release, Modiano’s works centre on topics such as memory, oblivion, identity and guilt. The city of Paris is often present in the text and can almost be considered a creative participant in the works.

Rather often his tales are built on an autobiographical foundation, or on events that took place during the German occupation. He sometimes draws material for his works from interviews, newspaper articles or his own notes which he has accumulated over the years.

His novels show an affinity with one another, and it happens that earlier episodes are extended or that persons recur in different tales. The author’s home town and its history often serve to link the tales together.

A work of documentary character, with World War II as background, is Dora Bruder(1997; Dora Bruder, 1999) which builds on the true tale of a fifteen-year old girl in Paris who becomes one of the victims of the Holocaust. Among the works which most clearly reveal an autobiographical character one notes Un Pedigree from 2005.

Some of Modiano’s works have been translated into English, among them Les boulevards de ceinture (1972; Ring Roads: A Novel, 1974), Villa Triste (1975; Villa Triste, 1977), Quartier perdu (1984; A Trace of Malice, 1988) and Voyage de noces(1990; Honeymoon, 1992). His latest work is the novel Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier (2014).

 

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