Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Translated by Tanya Leslie

A New York Times Notable Book

In her spare, stark style, Annie Ernaux's Simple Passion documents the desires and indignities of a human heart ensnared in an all-consuming passion. Blurring the line between fact and fiction, an unnamed narrator attempts to plot the emotional and physical course of her two-year relationship with a married foreigner where every word, event, and person either provides a connection with her beloved or is subject to her cold indifference. With courage and exactitude, she seeks the truth behind an existence lived entirely for someone else, and, in the pieces of its aftermath, she is able to find it.

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“| "The triumph of Ms. Ernaux's approach … is to cherish commonplace emotions while elevating the banal expression of them … A monument to passions that defy simple explanations.”

“ "A work of lyrical precision and diamond-hard clarity." ”

“ "A stunning story, despite its detachment and the careful exclusions of any excess, that pulsates with the very passion Ernaux so truthfully describes. Small, but abundantly wise." ”

“All this—the suffering and anxiety of waiting, the brief soulagement of lovemaking, the lethargy and fatigue that follow, the renewal of desire, the little indignities and abjections of both obsession and abandonment—Ernaux tells with calm, almost tranquillized matter-of-factness [that] feels like determination, truth to self, clarity of purpose.”

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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.