Born in 1940, Annie Ernaux grew up in Normandy, studied at Rouen University, and later taught at secondary school. From 1977 to 2000, she was a professor at the Centre National d'Enseignement par Correspondance. Her books, in particular A Man's Place and A Woman's Story, have become contemporary classics in France. The Years won the Prix Renaudot in France in 2008, the Premio Strega in Italy in 2016, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2019. In 2017, Annie Ernaux was awarded the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her life's work.
'The Years is a revolution, not only in the art of
autobiography but in art itself. Annie Ernaux's book blends
memories, dreams, facts and meditations into a unique evocation of
the times in which we lived, and live.'
- John Banville, author of Mrs Osmond
'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
'The author of one of the most important oeuvres in French
literature, Annie Ernaux's work is as powerful as it is
devastating, as subtle as it is seething.'
- Edouard Louis, author of The End of Eddy
'Ravishing and almost oracular with insight, Ernaux's prose
performs an extraordinary dance between collective and intimate,
"big" history and private experience. The Years is a
philosophical meditation paced as a rollercoaster ride through the
decades. How we spend ourselves too quickly, how we reach for
meaning but evade it, how to live, how to remember - these are
Ernaux's themes. I am desperate for more.'
- Kapka Kassabova, author of Border
'The technique is like nothing I've ever seen before. She
illuminates a person through the culture that poured through her;
it's about time and being situated in a certain place in history
and how time and place make a person. It's incredible.'
- Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood
'I admire the form she invented, mixing autobiography, history,
sociology. The anxious interrogations on her defection, moving as
she did from the dominated to the dominant classes. Her loyalty to
her people, her fidelity to herself. The progressive
depersonalisation of her work, culminating in the disappearance of
the "I" in The Years, a book I must have read three or
four times since its publication, even more impressed each time by
its precision, its sweep and - I can't think of any other word -
its majesty. One of the few indisputably great books of
- Emmanuel Carrere, author of The Kingdom
'Attentive, communal and genuinely new, Annie Ernaux's The
Years is an astonishing achievement.'
- Olivia Laing, author of Crudo
'A book of memory, of a life and world, staggeringly and
- Philippe Sands, author of East West Street
'[A] beautiful book about the insanity of linear time, and
furthermore the insanity of everything we are meant to regard as
- Joanna Kavenna, author of A Field Guide to Reality
'Singular, incomparable - all the words apply.'
- Quinn Latimer, author of Like a Woman: Essays, Readings, Poems
'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