STOCKHOLM: France’s Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday for his enigmatic novels rooted in the trauma of the Nazi occupation and his own loveless childhood.
One of France’s most celebrated writers, the 69-year-old father of two, known for his shy, gentle manner, greeted news of his award as “a bit unreal” and said it felt as if it was happening to someone else.
The Swedish Academy said it wanted to celebrate Modiano’s “art of memory” in capturing the lives of ordinary French people living under the Nazis during World War II.
“He’s a kind of Marcel Proust for our time,” said Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the academy, praising a body of works that “speak to each other, that echo off each other, that are about memory, identity and seeking.
“They are small books… always variations on the same theme: about memory, about loss, about identity, about seeking.”
Speaking in Paris, hours after the prize was announced, the writer told reporters he was having difficulty taking in the news.
“It seems a bit unreal to me to be compared to other people I admired,” he said, referring to other French authors such as Albert Camus who won the Nobel in 1957.