French author Annie Ernaux, known for her deceptively simple novels drawing on personal experience of class and gender, has been announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.
Ernaux was honoured “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”, the jury at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm said.
The 2022 #NobelPrize in Literature is awarded to the French author Annie Ernaux “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.” pic.twitter.com/D9yAvki1LL
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 6, 2022
Interviewed on Swedish television immediately after the announcement, Ernaux, 82, called it a “very great honour” and “a great responsibility”.
Her more than 20 books, many of which have been school texts in France for decades, offer one of the most subtle, insightful windows into the social life of modern France.
The prize carries a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000), which will be handed out on December 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.
One clear contender for the literature prize this year was Salman Rushdie, the India-born writer and free-speech advocate who spent years in hiding after Iran’s then-supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, called for his death over his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses.
Rushdie, 75, was stabbed and seriously injured in August at a literary festival in New York.
Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Japan’s Haruki Murakami, Norway’s Jon Fosse and Antigua-born Jamaica Kincaid were also the frontrunners.
Last year’s literature prize went to the Tanzanian-born, UK-based writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose novels explore the impact of migration on individuals and societies.
Gurnah was only the sixth Nobel literature laureate born in Africa, and the prize has long faced criticism that it is too focused on European and North American writers. It is also male-dominated, with just 16 women among its 118 laureates.
The prizes to Gurnah in 2021 and US poet Louise Glück in 2020 helped the literature prize move on from years of controversy and scandal.
In 2018, the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, which names the Nobel literature committee, and sparked an exodus of members.
The academy revamped itself but faced more criticism for giving the 2019 literature award to Austria’s Peter Handke, who has been called an apologist for Serbian war crimes.
A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.
Three scientists jointly won the prize in physics on Tuesday. Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger had shown that tiny particles can retain a connection with each other even when separated, a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, that can be used for specialised computing and to encrypt information.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded on Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R Bertozzi and K Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way of “snapping molecules together” that can be used to explore cells, map DNA and design drugs that can target diseases such as cancer more precisely.
The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Monday.