Annie Ernaux is our Author of the Month for September. Find out more about her work here.
From the publisher:
In 1963, Annie Ernaux, 23 and unattached, realizes she is pregnant. Shame arises in her like a plague: understanding that her pregnancy will mark her and her family as social failures, she knows she cannot keep that child. This is the story, written forty years later, of a trauma Ernaux never overcame. In a France where abortion was illegal, she attempted, in vain, to self-administer the abortion with a knitting needle. Fearful and desperate, she finally located an abortionist, and ends up in a hospital emergency ward where she nearly dies. In Happening, Ernaux sifts through her memories and her journal entries dating from those days. Clearly, cleanly, she gleans the meanings of her experience.
Irish Times Best Books of 2019
‘Universal, primeval and courageous, Happening is a fiercely dislocating, profoundly relevant work — as much of art as of human experience. It should be compulsory reading.’
— Catherine Taylor, Financial Times
‘Ernaux’s work is an attempt at truth. Not a narrative bend on truth, but an “endeavour to revisit every single image”. ... Ernaux’s work is important. Not just because of her subject matter, but because of the way she hands it over: the subtle contradictions; her dispassionate stoicism, mixed with savagery; her detailed telling, mixed with spare, fragmented text.’
— Niamh Donnelly, Irish Times
‘Happening is gripping and painfully inevitable to read – like a thriller. I felt close to Annie Duchesne, in her alone-ness, in a way I’ve rarely felt close to a character in a book. Women will be grateful to Ernaux for her wisdom, concision, and commitment to writing about death and life.’
— Daisy Hildyard, author of The Second Body
‘This short book … is one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read. Ernaux is famed in France, and is gathering fame abroad ... as an autobiographer of unusual talent and insight, virtually creating (although she disavows the term) a genre called “autofiction”, a hybrid style mixing, as the name suggests, autobiography and fiction, although there is nothing in Happening that suggests any fictional element. This is the truth, as bare as it can be told, although every so often Ernaux reminds us, carefully, that memory is slippery.’
— Nicholas Lezard, Dhaka Tribune