Author(s): Patrick Modiano
When Patrick Modiano was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature he was praised for using the 'art of memory' to bring to life the Occupation of Paris during the Second World War. Born just after the war, Modiano was an angry young man in his twenties when these three brilliant, angry novels burst onto the Parisian literary scene and caused a storm. The epigraph to his ambitious first novel, among the first to seriously question both wartime collaboration in France and the myths of the Gaullist era, reads- 'In June 1942 a German officer goes up to a young man and says- 'Excuse me, monsieur, where is La Place de l'.toile?' The young man points to the star on his chest.' The Night Watch tells the story of a young man, caught between his work for the French Gestapo, his work for a Resistance cell informing on the police and the black market dealers whose seedy milieu he shares. Ring Roads recounts Serge's search for his father, who disappeared from his life ten years earlier. He finds him trying to survive the war years in the unlikely company of spivs, anti-Semites and prostitutes, putting his meagre business skills at the service of those who have no interest in him or his survival. These brilliant, almost hallucinatory evocations of the Occupation, attempt to exorcise the past by exploring the morally ambiguous worlds of collaboration and resistance.
Modiano's first three novels about Paris under Nazi occupation in a single volume, the earliest - La Place de l'Etoile - appears here in English for the first time
A Marcel Proust of our time Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Modiano is a pure original Adam Thirlwell From the satirical portrayal of anti-Semitism in his debut novel [La Place de l'Etoile] to later books such as The Search Warrant and Missing Person, the Occupation shapes much of Modiano's work Boyd Tonkin, Independent Modiano is the poet of the Occupation and a spokesman for the disappeared, and I am thrilled that the Swedish Academy has recognised him Rupert Thomson, Guardian
Patrick Modiano was born in Paris in 1945 in the immediate aftermath of World War Two and the Nazi occupation of France, a dark period which continues to haunt him. After passing his baccalaureat, he left full-time education and dedicated himself to writing, encouraged by the French writer Raymond Queneau. From his very first book to his most recent, Modiano has pursued a quest for identity and some form of reconciliation with the past. His books have been published in forty languages and among the many prizes they have won are the Grand Prix du Roman de l'Academie francaise (1972), the Prix Goncourt (1978) and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (2012). In 2014 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Frank Wynne is the prize-winning translator of Michel Houellebecq, Frederic Beigbeder and Boualem Sansal.