Tuesday, May 23, 2023

BOOK REVIEW: A Man's Place by Annie Ernaux

Annie Ernaux is a French writer who draws on her own experiences in her work, and who won the Nobel Prize in 2022. Her work is readily available in translation, so I dipped my toe in with her memoir-like narrative about her father, A Man’s Place. A short book, it explores her working class father’s efforts to move up in the world and the dignity of his life as it was lived. As his daughter, Annie had more access to education and economic advantage, which took her well into the middle class that her parents aspired to. As the gulf between them widened, and her father aged and then sickened, Annie looked back to reevaluate what he had gone through to create a memoir full of empathy and admiration.

The prose is spare but lovely. 

The style and subject reminded me a little of The Hero of this Book by Elizabeth McCracken, although I found Ernaux’s father to be more stoically heroic.

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