The Years by Annie Ernaux
Considered by many to be the iconic French memoirist's defining work, The Years is a narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present, photos, books, songs, radio, television, advertising, and news headlines. Local dialect, words of the times, slogans, brands and names for ever-proliferating objects are given voice here. The voice we recognize as the author's continually dissolves and re-emerges as Annie Ernaux makes the passage of time palpable. Time itself, inexorable, narrates its own course, consigning all other narrators to anonymity. A new kind of autobiography emerges, at once subjective and impersonal, private and collective. On its 2008 publication in France, The Years came as a surprise. Though Ernaux had for years been hailed as a beloved, bestselling and award-winning author, this was in many ways a departure: both an intimate memoir `written' by entire generations, and a story of generations telling a very personal story. Like the generation before hers, the narrator eschews the `I' for the `we' (`on' in French) as if collective life were inextricably intertwined with a private life that in her parents' generation ceased to exist. In inventing a new genre - the collective autobiography - Annie Ernaux has written a genuine, genre-bending masterpiece which cements her place as one of our greatest memoirists.
"Annie Ernaux is long overdue to be recognised in Britain as one of the most important writers in contemporary France, and this edition of The Years ought to do the trick. Originally published there in 2008, it was immediately heralded as Ernaux's masterpiece, her brief Remembrance of Things Past. It has been expertly rendered into English by Alison Strayer, who captures all the shadings of Ernaux's prose, all its stops and starts, its changes in pace and in tone, its chatterings, its silences." - Lauren Elkin, The Guardian
"I've just finished Happening by Annie Ernaux, in which she writes about her experience of unwanted pregnancy and illegal abortion in 1960s France. The Years was one of my favourite reads of last year and that same rigorous clarity of vision - even when dealing with the complex or ambiguous - is just as evident here again. The experience of living simultaneously on the inside and outside of your own body is very particular to the female experience I think - and not only in relation to pregnancy but in myriad other ways too. I like the measured, unforgiving way she works her way through the logic, or illogic, of that. I find her work extraordinary."- Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
"One of the best books you'll ever read." -Deborah Levy, author of Hot Milk
Publisher: Seven Stories Press