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The “Nobel of Literature” by Annie Ernault, the “Writer of the Impossible Plain”


Do you have the courage to write your autobiography bravely and without shame, trying to discuss social and cultural issues, this is what the French writer “The Abstaining Plain” did, Annie Ernault, who was a frequent guest on the list of nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature, to finally get it.

With Erno receiving the award yesterday, France has recorded its second attendance so far in the 2022 Nobel Prizes, after French physicist Alain Aspect received the Physics Prize with the participation of others.

“The French writer was distinguished for her courage and clinical precision in discovering the roots and breaking away from the collective constraints of personal memory,” the Nobel Committee said Thursday at a press conference.

The use of the term “clinical precision” seemed strange, as it was closer to the medical world, but perhaps the Nobel Committee wanted to explain, as Erno was adept at dissecting the character with a precision that seemed remarkable.

Erno’s work constantly and from different angles examines a life marked by extremes of gender, language and class, says Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Literature.

Ernault’s work often touches on questions of personal history. Her memoirs discuss an illegal abortion she undertook in the 1960s. A 2018 translation of her memoirs, The Years, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and a translation of Erno’s Lost, a diary of her relationship, was published this year. With a younger married man.

Yale University Press is scheduled to publish a translation of Erno’s “Look at the Lights, My Love” in the fall of 2023.

“As a huge fan of Annie Erno’s extraordinary work, I am particularly pleased to see her receive such global recognition, and she is so deserving in all the richness of the wide readership that this award will attract,” John Donatich, director of Yale University Press, said in a statement. A wonderful discovery.”

Perhaps Donatisch was right that the award will attract more readers, because today the award administration put out a referendum after announcing her victory, during which the audience was asked: “Have you read anything by Annie Erno?” And the result was that 85 percent of the reading audience who waited to know The name of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature this year, he did not read a single book by her, which is a surprise that the literary audience around the world is accustomed to, as the writer or writer is always one of the not famous in the literary audience around the world.

Erno is known for her easy-going style, and author Linda Barrett Osborne wrote in 1996 of her style: “Annie Erno’s work can elicit the same response that some Art Nouveau evokes in viewers, the tendency to believe that, because it seems simple or direct in composition, It was easy to imagine that anyone could create the same forms and impressions. Instead, Erno has, at its best, the capacity to improve ordinary experience, strip it of indifference and digression, and reduce it to a kind of icon of the spirit of the late twentieth century.”

Ernault, described as a “permanent nominee for the Nobel Prize”, is the first French writer to win the prize since Patrick Modiano in 2014. She became the 16th French writer to win the Nobel Prize so far.

Ironically, the Swedish Academy that awarded the prize was not able to reach Erno to inform her of the victory, as is customary, but later Swedish television was able to reach her, and said that winning the Nobel Prize was a “great honor” and “a very great responsibility”.

Ernault was born in 1940 in Normandy, the daughter of working-class parents, and her first book was in 1974 about her experience of having an abortion.

The Nobel Prize in Literature is worth 10 million Swedish kronor, and goes to a writer who is, in the words of Alfred Nobel’s will, “the person who has produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an idealistic direction”.

Egyptian writer Mohamed Salmawy commented on Annie Erno’s victory, saying that he absolves the Nobel Committee of accusations it has always been subjected to, which is “the interference of the Jewish lobby in its choices.”

Salmawy told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Erno has a supportive stance for the Palestinian cause. Indeed, she was one of the few writers who joined the campaign to boycott Israeli agricultural products that were grown in the occupied Arab lands.”

Salmawy points out that “her writing is bold, but not pornographic, and she writes in a middle area between the biography and the novel, and she has a distinctive style of narration and she wanders in the narrator’s conscience in a free and varied manner, mixing between (I, illusion, and she) distinctly.”