French writer Patrick Modiano has won the 2014 Nobel prize for literature for works that made him “a Marcel Proust of our time” with tales often set during the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War Two, the Swedish Academy said on Thursday.
Relatively unknown outside of France and a media recluse, Modiano’s works have centred on memory, oblivion, identity and guilt. He has written novels, children’s books and film scripts, according to Reuters.
“You could say he’s a Marcel Proust of our time,” Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told reporters.
The academy said the award was “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.
His first novel La Place de l’Etoile, published in 1968, remains probably his best known book and touched on many themes that he would return to throughout his career, including the fate of the Jews under the Nazis.
Modiano, 69, reacting to the award, said he felt like he had been writing versions of the same book for many years.
“What I am keen to see are the reasons why they chose me … One can never really be one’s own reader,” he told a news conference in Paris. “Even more so because I have the impression of writing the same book for 45 years.”
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