Monday 24 November 2014

Patrick Modiano

I had not heard of Parisian Patrick Modiano until he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2014 last month. He became the 15th French writer to win this most prestigious of prizes. The French will often advertise books on street posters in a way we don't often do. Still I was somewhat surprised to spy a poster from the bus advertising his win. I can't imagine that happening here.

Bad photo from the #72 bus

Worse photo
but at least you can see the whole poster

Patrick Modiano will deliver his Nobel Lecture on Dec 7 2014. He rarely gives media interviews and turned down the Académie Francaise. He is not well known outside France, and many of his nearly 40 books are not available in English, although that may well change now. Born on the outskirts of Paris in 1945 into a difficult family.

"In the end, we are all determined by the place and the time in which we were born."

Much of Mondiano's writing appears to be about Paris during the occupation, the years before his birth. The New Yorker puts it beautifully.

Like Rushdie's midnight's children, Europeans born in 1945 share a certain liminal condition. They escaped the threat, but not the taint, of the war. They were born into freedom but conceived in turmoil; they grew up looking over their shoulders. 

He has won many prizes on his road to the Nobel Prize, including the Prix Goncourt in 1978 for Rue des Boutiques Obscures (Missing Persons). The Guardian calls Voyage de Noces/Honeymoon his masterpiece, and lists five other key books. Happily there seems to be a rush to translate many of his books including his children's book, Catherine Certitude. 

Fishpond has it available as a Pre-Order, due to ship March 15, 2015. I'm patiently waiting for my copy. 

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog 

Books on France, a great 2014 challenge
 from Emma at 
Words and Peace


Anonymous said...

Glad you are discovering him. Rue des boutiques obscures was a highlight of my teenage years

Sim Carter said...

No, we wouldn't do that here in the states, either. Sadly! thanks for the introduction to Modiano; they've got his Suspended Sentence in English translation at B&N; I'll put it on my TBR list - not that that means too much these days, the pile is simply too big.

Oh, and thanks for sharing that piece about the book-to-movies coming in 2015 on FB. Fantastic info!

Paulita said...

Louise, You always seem to learn so much on your trips to Paris, whereas I just eat! Thanks for the info about Modiano. I wonder if his children's books are like Madeline. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

How serendipitous. I'm reading this fellow right now. He is quite delicious. A short novel (I do hate novels that go on and on) and a mysterious one...a man has forgotten who he is and is off in search of himself. Kafka-esque.

And now you tell me that he has written a children's book? Let's see if it is out there somewhere. I was delighted to find Missing Person at my public library.

I must say one more thing. I wish I lived in a country where we had advertisements for Nobel Prize winners. I do.

Susan said...

Now I think I should read something of his. But sometimes translations are disappointing and I know I'm not able to tackle a novel in French. Hmmm. Something to think about.

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

First of all I love the 72 bus. I have taken it so often. Secondly thanks so much for this interesting info on Patrick Modiano. I was not familiar with him at all & was curious when I heard he had won. I see that his children's book is illustrated by Sempé who I adore maybe thats the first of his books I should try to read. :0)