Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux hails Albert Camus

French writer Annie Ernaux hailed Albert Camus as she received her Nobel Prize for literature on Saturday, 65 years after the author of existentialist classic "The Stranger" won the same award.

Stockholm City Hall
Annie Ernaux delivered her Nobel Prize lecture in literature on December 7th, 2022. Photo by Tushar Mahajan / Unsplash

“Finding myself here, 65 years later, leaves me with a deep sense of astonishment and gratitude,” Ernaux told 2,000 guests gathered for the ceremony at Stockholm City Hall.

She said she felt “astonishment at the mystery represented by the path of life and hazardous, solitary pursuit of writing. Gratitude for allowing me to join Camus, and these late or contemporary writers that I admire.”

“By rewarding my work, you force me to be even more demanding in the search for a reality.”

Camus, then 44, won the prize in 1957 for his body of work which included novels such as “The Stranger”, “The Plague” and several plays and essays.

Academy lauds Ernaux for “courage and clinical acuity” 

Like Camus, who was born to a poor family in French Algeria, Ernaux’s writing explores her own journey from a working-class background to France’s literary elite.

Honoured by the Swedish Academy for “the courage and clinical acuity” of her work, Ernaux is just the 17th woman to win the prize since it was first handed out in 1901, and the first French woman.

Outside France, recognition for her work has only come in recent years, notably after the English translation of her key 2008 work, “The Years”, which was nominated for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2019.

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French novelist Annie Ernaux wins Sweden’s Nobel Literature Prize

The French novelist Annie Ernaux has won this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy accounced at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

French novelist Annie Ernaux wins Sweden's Nobel Literature Prize
Announcing the award, Mats Malm, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, said that Ernaux, 82, was being given the prize “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”.
In a press release, the Academy praised the writer for “consistently and from different angles”, examining “a life marked by strong disparities regarding gender, language and class”. 
The Academy were unable to contact Ernaux in advance to inform her she had won, which meant she received the news at the same time as the rest of the world.
“I was very surprised,” she told Swedish public broadcaster SVT. “It’s a great honour and a great responsibility.”
“It’s a great responsibility to portray a kind of justice in relation to the world, not only through my writing.”
Ernaux told SVT she had not yet had the chance to tell her children, grandchildren or publisher that she had been awarded the prise, but she thanked Sweden and the Swedish Academy.
“Of course I will come to Stockholm and hold a speech, as I should.”
The Nobel Prize comes with a medal and a prize sum of 10 million Swedish kronor (about $911,400).
Last year, the award went to Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose work focuses on the plight of refugees and exile, colonialism and racism.
Ernaux’s name has circulated in Nobel speculation for several years. She was the bookmaker’s favourite to win the prize in 2021, but was eclipsed by Canada’s Anne Carson, Salman Rushdie, Michel Houellebecq, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, and Stephen King in this year’s odds. 
She is the 17th woman to win the prestigious prize, out of 119 literature laureates since the first Nobel was awarded in 1901.
The Swedish Academy has in recent years pledged to make the prize more diverse, after a 2017-18 #MeToo scandal that left it in tatters.
Ernaux will receive the Nobel from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

The Swedish Academy was long plagued by suspected leaks, but is known for cloak-and-dagger methods to try to keep its musings and preparatory Nobel work under wraps. Its deliberations are also sealed for 50 years.

It is known to have a longlist that is whittled down throughout the year to a shortlist of five names, before the 18 members vote on a winner.

After Thursday’s announcement, the Nobel season continues on Friday with the highly-anticipated Peace Prize, the only Nobel announced in the Norwegian capital Oslo. Punters have suggested this year’s prize could sound the alarm over the war in Ukraine or the climate. The Economics Prize wraps things up on Monday, October 10th.