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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Translated by Tanya Leslie

Taking the form of random journal entries over the course of seven years, Exteriors concentrates on the ephemeral encounters that take place just on the periphery of a person’s lived environment. Ernaux captures the feeling of contemporary living on the outskirts of Paris: poignantly lyrical, chaotic, and strangely alive. Exteriors is in many ways the most ecstatic of Ernaux’s books—the first in which she appears largely free of the haunting personal relationships she has written about so powerfully elsewhere, and the first in which she is able to leave the past behind her.

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“A strange but lovely collection of Ernaux’s observances in diary-like entries spanning 1985 to 1992 of people she noticed and overheard conversations on the metro and RER train, in shopping centers and parking lots. It’s kind of incredible how much insight these manage to pack in and how revealing they are of everyday lives, emotions, and events, and her writing is lyrical and poignant and I thought more accessible than some of her other work.”

“Ernaux’s book came out in 1993, and the journal entries cover the years 1985-1992. They describe people on trains, in supermarkets and hair salons, and out on the streets of Cergy-Pontoise, a new (at the time) town 40 kilometers outside Paris. The entries are vibrant and funny and strange. She’s particularly good at capturing overheard conversations among friends, the behavior of young children, interactions between store clerks and customers, and walking through stores and malls, falling under the spell of consumerism along with the crowd.”

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The author of some twenty works of fiction and memoir, ANNIE ERNAUX is considered by many to be France’s most important literary voice. She won the Prix Renaudot for A Man's Place and the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her body of work. More recently she received the International Strega Prize, the Prix Formentor, the French-American Translation Prize, and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for The Years, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Her other works include Exteriors, A Girl's Story, A Woman's Story, The Possession, Simple Passion, HappeningI Remain in DarknessShameA Frozen Woman, and A Man's Place