Annie Ernaux Is No Traitor

The feminist writer refuses to sensationalize her working class roots for a literary audience

By Lauren Elkin

Photos By Camilo Fuentealba

An older woman wearing a red sating blouse poses in front of a gold frame
Annie Ernaux in New York shortly after the announcement that she had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

When Annie Ernaux won the Nobel prize for literature, many saw the victory as a rebuke of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. In the English-speaking world, Ernaux may be most famous for her memoir Happening, with its matter-of-fact account of her illegal abortion in 1963. Her writing about sex, in books like Passion Simple and Getting Lost, has also received great attention, and necessarily so, as Jamie Hood recently argued in The Baffler, at a time “when the gains of feminist and sexual liberationist movements are being reactionarily regressed.” 

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