Reading Annie Ernaux’s ‘The Years’

Cover of The Years

She’s just won the Nobel (October 2022) for Literature so I’ve seen her name (for the first time too – so much happens in the world and no-one, no-one, can know even a smidgeon of it all) bandied about recently. So I leap this morning from The Guardian page to a note from Booker Prizes (which highly commended her for The Years back in the past but did not give her The Booker) that she’s won the Nobel and thence to Amazon and a download and thus to read:


All the images will disappear. —the woman who squatted to urinate in broad daylight, behind the shack that served coffee at the edge of the ruins in Yvetot, after the war, who stood, skirts lifted, to pull up her underwear and then returned to the café

—the tearful face of Alida Valli as she danced with Georges Wilson in the film The Long Absence

—the man passed on a Padua sidewalk in the summer of 1990, his hands tied at the shoulders, instantly summoning the memory of thalidomide, prescribed to pregnant women for nausea thirty years before, and of a joke people told later…

Ernaux, Annie. The Years . Seven Stories Press. Kindle Edition.

And why not – this mashup of snippets, news cuttings, songs, books, radio, television… recollections of TIME and her voice (so the Booker people tell me) dissolving & re-emerging in and out of: “The passage of time palpable.” That’s what they say.

So I’ll read it and see if time has indeed become weightier. Her time, even, it does not need to be mine.

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