Novelist is 11th French writer to win prestigious award
Patrick Modiano has won this year’s Nobel prize for literature.
The 69-year-old is the 11th French writer to win the prestigious prize.
The Swedish Academy gave the 8 million kronor ($1.1 million or £700,000) prize to Modiano “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.
Modiano, whose novel Missing Person won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1978, was born in a west Paris suburb two months after the second world war ended in Europe in July 1945.
His father was of Jewish Italian origins and met his Belgian actress mother during the occupation of Paris and his beginnings have strongly influenced his writing.
Jewishness, the Nazi occupation and loss of identity are recurrent themes in his novels, which include 1968’s La Place de l’Etoile – later hailed in Germany as a key post-Holocaust work.
Modiano owes his first big break to a friendship with a friend of his mother, French writer Raymond Queneau, who was first introduced him to the Gallimard publishing house when he was in his early twenties.
Modiano, who lives in Paris, is known to shun media, and rarely accords interviews. In 2012, he won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature.
Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said: “Patrick Modiano is a well-known name in France but not anywhere else. He writes children’s books, movie scripts but mainly novels. His themes are memory, identity and time.
“His best known work is called Missing Person. It’s the story about a detective who has lost his memory and his final case is finding out who he really is; he is tracing his own steps through history to find out who he is.”
He added: “They are small books, 130, 150 pages, which are always variations of the same theme – memory, loss, identity, seeking. Those are his important themes: memory, identity, and time.”
Last year’s award went to the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro.
The Nobel announcements have been going on all week, and will conclude with the Nobel peace prize and Nobel prize for economics on Friday and Monday respectively.
On Wednesday Stefan Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, William Moerner of Stanford University in California, and Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Virginia won the chemistry prize “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”.
On Tuesday Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, shared the physics prize with Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan for “the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources”.
And on Monday, British-US scientist John O’Keefe and married couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser from Norway won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the brain’s “inner GPS”.
Worth 8m kronor each, the Nobel prizes are always handed out on 10 December, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896. Besides the prize money, each laureate receives a diploma and a gold medal.
Nobel, a wealthy Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite, provided few directions for how to select winners, except that the prize committees should reward those who “have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”.
via the guardian