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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Translated by Tanya Leslie

Washington Post Book World Expert Pick for Best Memoir of 1999

An extraordinary evocation of a grown daughter's attachment to her mother, and of both women's strength and resiliency. I Remain in Darkness recounts Ernaux’s attempts first to help her mother recover from Alzheimer's disease, and then, when that proves futile, to bear witness to the older woman's gradual decline and her own experience as a daughter losing a beloved parent. I Remain in Darkness is a new high water mark for Ernaux, surging with raw emotional power and her sublime ability to use language to apprehend her own life's particular music.

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“A Testament to the persistent, haunting, and melancholy quality of memory.”

“As always, Ernaux's marriage of opposites—disgust and adoration, revulsion and emulation, dirt-physical and heady-theoretical—takes place on the whitest of pages. Ernaux's opposites rip her in two in spite of her spare languages. . . . [Her] art is in her fight with words.”

“Ernaux courageously bears witness both to complex multiple truths of family relationships and to the fierce persistence of family love.”

“Again blurring the line between memoir and fiction, Ernaux continues the story of her family in journal form … Several recurring themes are woven throughout, notably those of time, art and the relationship between mother and daughter. Like Ernaux's other work (Shame; Simple Passion), this is "not literature" exactly, but "an attempt to salvage part of our lives, to understand, but first to salvage," poignant though limited in its reach.”

“This slim volume by noted French writer Ernaux (Simple Passion) is not a straightforward medical account of her mother's death from Alzheimer's; instead, it is a collection of the notes, in their original form, that Ernaux jotted down at the time of her mother's illness. "When I write down all these things, I scribble away as fast as I can (as if I felt guilty), without choosing my words." Here in their raw, uncensored form are the "vestiges of pain" at the anger, guilt, and grief that Ernaux felt during her mother's two-year decline.”

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Born in 1940, Annie Ernaux grew up in Normandy, studied at Rouen University, and later taught high school. From 1977 to 2000, she was a professor at the Centre National d’Enseignement par Correspondance. Her books, in particular A Man’s Place and A Woman’s Story, have become contemporary classics in France. Ernaux won the prestigious Prix Renaudot for A Man's Place when it was first published in French in 1984, and the English edition later became a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The English edition of A Woman’s Story was also a New York Times Notable Book. Ernaux’s more recent works include Simple Passion and The Possession.