Annie Ernaux is our Author of the Month for September. Find out more about her work here.
From the publisher:
Annie Ernaux’s father died exactly two months after she passed her exams for a teaching certificate. Barely educated and valued since childhood strictly for his labour, Ernaux’s father had grown into a hard, practical man who showed his family little affection. Narrating his slow ascent towards material comfort, Ernaux’s cold observation in A Man’s Place reveals the shame that haunted her father throughout his life. She scrutinizes the importance he attributed to manners and language that came so unnaturally to him as he struggled to provide for his family with a grocery store and café in rural France. Over the course of the book, Ernaux grows up to become the uncompromising observer now familiar to the world, while her father matures into old age with a staid appreciation for life as it is and for a daughter he cautiously, even reluctantly admires.
‘Ernaux has inherited de Beauvoir’s role of chronicler to a generation.’
— Margaret Drabble, New Statesman
‘An unsentimental portrait of a man loved as a parent, admired as an individual but, because of habits and education, heartbreakingly apart. Moving and memorable.’
‘An affecting portrait of a man whose own peasant upbringing typified the adage that a child should never be better educated than his parents.’
— Publishers Weekly
Praise for A Girl’s Story
‘Ernaux is an unusual memoirist: she distrusts her memory... Ernaux does not so much reveal the past – she does not pretend to have any authoritative access to it – as unpack it.’
— Madeleine Schwartz, New Yorker
‘An exquisite elegy’
— Irish Times
‘For all that A Girl’s Story is intoxicatingly specific about time and place, it is also a story that belongs to any number of selfconsciously clever girls with appetite and no nous, who must, like Ernaux, reckon with the entanglements of sexism and sexuality. But it is above all personal. In reclaiming the girl she was, Ernaux becomes her own Orpheus.’
‘Revisiting painful periods is hardly new territory for writers, but Ernaux distills a particular power from the exercise.’
— The New York Times