Patrick Modiano wins 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature

 French novelist Patrick Modiano. Photograph: AP
French novelist Patrick Modiano. Photograph: AP

The decision is in and the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Patrick Modiano. Modiano, from Paris, is 69 years old and is the eleventh French writer to win. The prize is worth 8 million kronor, which is $1.1 million or £700,000. The Nobel Academy awarded the 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’s father had Jewish and Italian roots. His mother was a Belgian actress. His parents met during the German occupation of Paris and Modiano was born two months after the end of World War II. He often writes about Jews during the Nazi occupation and about the loss of identity, themes that occur in La Place de l’Etoile, published in 1968.

Peter Englund, the Nobel Academy’s permanent secretary, has this to say about Modiano:

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.

Englund adds that Modiano’s books “are always variations of the same theme – memory, loss, identity, seeking. Those are his important themes: memory, identity, and time.”

The Swedish Academy nominated 210 writers this year. Twenty made it to the secret long list and five to the committee’s short list. There was much outside speculation about who was being considered, and several writers’ names came up as possible winners, including Ngugi wa Thiong’o, from Kenya, the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami and the Belarussian journalist Svetlana Aleksijevitj.

There are lots of articles online today about Modiano, but I think the best one is from The Guardian:

You can also check out what The New York Times says here:

If you speak French or German, you can get La Place de L’Etoile on Amazon:

Missing Person is available in English on Amazon:

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