Annie Ernaux is our Author of the Month for September. Find out more about her work here.
From the publisher:
A powerful meditation on ageing and familial love, I Remain in Darkness recounts Annie Ernaux’s attempts to help her mother recover from Alzheimer’s disease, and then, when that proves futile, to bear witness to the older woman’s gradual decline and her own experience as a daughter losing a beloved parent. Haunting and devastatingly poignant, I Remain in Darkness showcases Ernaux’s unique talent for evoking life’s darkest and most bewildering episodes.
‘Acute and immediate, I Remain in Darkness is an unforgettable exploration of love, memory and the journey to loss.’
— Eimear McBride, author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing
‘In this work of shocking honesty and intimacy, Ernaux bears witness to her mother’s final years of living and dying with dementia. ... Sometimes the diary entries are little more than notes. They are often inconsistent, but this is part of the author’s point: the self is not coherent; an ‘I’ is full of contradictions; you can hate what you adore. The result is a meditation on the gradual loss of agency and identity. Ernaux writes of memory, of love, of loathing, of disgust, of tenderness; she writes about the frail, leaking, helpless, horrifying body, about the porous self. The narrative was always death. Writing was always an act of betrayal.'
— Nicci Gerrard, The Spectator
‘Ernaux’s mother died of Alzheimer’s disease; like John Bayley’s memoir Elegy for Iris, Ernaux’s memoir catalogues the deterioration of a once powerful, almost totemic presence, a fall so cataclysmic that it cannot be analyzed or contextualized, only reported. In I Remain in Darkness (its title taken from the last coherent sentence her mother ever wrote) Ernaux abandons her search for a larger truth because, in the face of a loss as profound as that of her mother, all attempts to make sense of it have the feel of artifice.’
— Kathryn Harrison, New York Times Book Review
‘I Remain in Darkness is a remarkably light thing to be carrying such human weight. There’s a safety in tiny volumes, in the small doses of pain which drip from Ernaux’s note-style pages; the drip of a faucet that won’t quite turn off, however hard you force its handle.’
— Lydia Unsworth, Structo
‘A testament to the persistent, haunting, and melancholy quality of memory.’
— New York Times
‘As always, Ernaux's marriage of opposites—disgust and adoration, revulsion and emulation, dirt-physical and heady-theoretical—takes place on the whitest of pages. Ernaux's opposites rip her in two in spite of her spare languages ... [Her] art is in her fight with words.’
— Los Angeles Times