Quelle merveilleuse surprise! Felicitations are in order for Patrick Modiano, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature—one of the world’s greatest literary honors— “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.
Born in the suburbs of Paris and considered the “Marcel Proust of Our Time,” Modiano’s most notable work is Missing Person, a novel about a detective who loses his memory and sets out to find it.
A big name in France but relatively unknown in the U.S., Modiano’s books are usually small in length and feature variations of the same theme of memory loss and identity.
Modiano is the 15th French writer of this prestigious award. Below is a list of past French winners, along with some of their most notable works.
1901: Sully Prudhomme – Stances et Poèmes (165)
1904: Frederic Mistral – Mireille (1859)
1915: Romain Rolland – Jean-Cristophe (1903-1912)
1921: Anatole France – The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1881)
1927: Henri Bergson – Time & Free Will (1889)
1937: Roger Martin du Grad – The Thibaults (1922-1929)
1947: Andre Gide – Unless The Seed Dies (1924)
1952: Francois Mauriac – Therese Desqueyroux (1927)
1957: Albert Camus – The Stranger (1942)
1960: Saint-John Perse – Nocturne (1973)
1964: Jean-Paul Sartre – The Age Of Reason (1945)
1985: Claude Simon – Les Géorgiques (1981)
2000: Gao Xingjian – Soul Mountain (1990)
2008: J.M.G. Le Clezio – The African (2004)