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Man Booker International Prize 2019: Annie Ernaux, The Years

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

The Man Booker International Prize has revealed the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ of 13 novels in contention for the 2019 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world.

The prize is awarded every year for a single book, which is translated into English and published in the UK and Ireland. Both novels and short-story collections are eligible. The judges considered 108 books.

We are very proud to announce that Annie Ernaux's The Years has made it on the list.

I admire the form she invented, mixing autobiography, history, sociology. The anxious interrogations on her defection, moving as she did from the dominated to the dominant classes. Her loyalty to her people, her fidelity to herself. The progressive depersonalisation of her work, culminating in the disappearance of the “I” in The Years, a book I must have read three or four times since its publication, even more impressed each time by its precision, its sweep and – I can’t think of any other word – its majesty. One of the few indisputably great books of contemporary literature.’ — Emmanuel Carrère

Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions and translated by Alison L. Strayer, the novel is a narrative of the period ranging from 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, a kaleidoscopic montage of songs, photographs, impressions and quotations offering snippets of the author's life. It remembers her working-class upbringing in Normandy, her time as a teacher in Cergy, her journey as a wife and mother, and eventually her divorce and self-rediscovery.

Ernaux is well-aware of the collective yet organic nature of her narrative, warning the reader that “It will be a slippery narrative, composed in an unremitting continuous tense, absolute, devouring the present as it goes.” This is her way of making sense of her experience of her place in the world. Dubbed 'a Remembrance of Things Past for our age of media domination and consumerism’ (New York Times), The Years is the collective autobiography of an era, 'a revolution, not only in the art of autobiography but in art itself. Annie Ernaux's book blends memories, dreams, facts and meditations into a unique evocation of the times in which we lived, and live' (John Banville).

Born in 1940, Annie Ernaux grew up in Normandy, studied at Rouen University, and later taught at secondary school. From 1977 to 2000, she was a professor at the Centre National d’Enseignement par Correspondance. Her books, in particular A Man’s Place and A Woman’s Story, have become contemporary classics in France. The Years won the Prix Renaudot in France in 2008 and the Premio Strega in Italy in 2016. In 2017, Annie Ernaux was awarded the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her life’s


Alison Lee Strayer is a Canadian writer and translator, author of Jardin et prairie, a novel, and numerous literary essays, articles and stories. Her work has been shortlisted for awards including the Governor General’s Award for Literature (2000) and for Translation (2010: co-translation of Mavis Gallant’s A Fairly Good Time), the Grand Prix Littéraire de la Ville de Montréal, le Prix Jacqueline-Déry-Mochon and the Prix France-Quebec.

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