The Years
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The Years

4.17 (5,579 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 
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Description

Considered by many to be the iconic French memoirist's defining work, The Years is a narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present, cultural habits, language, photos, books, songs, radio, television, advertising and news headlines. Annie Ernaux invents a form that is subjective and impersonal, private and communal, and a new genre - the collective autobiography - in order to capture the passing of time. At the confluence of autofiction and sociology, The Years is 'a Remembrance of Things Past for our age of media domination and consumerism' (New York Times), a monumental account of twentieth-century French history as refracted through the life of one woman.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 232 pages
  • 127 x 195 x 25mm | 293g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 9781910695784
  • 16,138

Review quote

'The Years is a revolution, not only in the art of autobiography but in art itself. Annie Ernaux's book blends memories, dreams, facts and meditations into a unique evocation of the times in which we lived, and live.'

- John Banville, author of Mrs Osmond


'I've just finished Happening by Annie Ernaux, in which she writes about her experience of unwanted pregnancy and illegal abortion in 1960s France. The Years was one of my favourite reads of last year and that same rigorous clarity of vision - even when dealing with the complex or ambiguous - is just as evident here again. The experience of living simultaneously on the inside and outside of your own body is very particular to the female experience I think - and not only in relation to pregnancy but in myriad other ways too. I like the measured, unforgiving way she works her way through the logic, or illogic, of that. I find her work extraordinary.'

- Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing


'One of the best books you'll ever read.'

- Deborah Levy, author of Hot Milk


'The author of one of the most important oeuvres in French literature, Annie Ernaux's work is as powerful as it is devastating, as subtle as it is seething.'

- Edouard Louis, author of The End of Eddy




'Ravishing and almost oracular with insight, Ernaux's prose performs an extraordinary dance between collective and intimate, "big" history and private experience. The Years is a philosophical meditation paced as a rollercoaster ride through the decades. How we spend ourselves too quickly, how we reach for meaning but evade it, how to live, how to remember - these are Ernaux's themes. I am desperate for more.'

- Kapka Kassabova, author of Border


'The technique is like nothing I've ever seen before. She illuminates a person through the culture that poured through her; it's about time and being situated in a certain place in history and how time and place make a person. It's incredible.'

- Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood


'I admire the form she invented, mixing autobiography, history, sociology. The anxious interrogations on her defection, moving as she did from the dominated to the dominant classes. Her loyalty to her people, her fidelity to herself. The progressive depersonalisation of her work, culminating in the disappearance of the "I" in The Years, a book I must have read three or four times since its publication, even more impressed each time by its precision, its sweep and - I can't think of any other word - its majesty. One of the few indisputably great books of contemporary literature.'

- Emmanuel Carrere, author of The Kingdom


'Attentive, communal and genuinely new, Annie Ernaux's The Years is an astonishing achievement.'

- Olivia Laing, author of Crudo


'A book of memory, of a life and world, staggeringly and brilliantly original.'

- Philippe Sands, author of East West Street


'[A] beautiful book about the insanity of linear time, and furthermore the insanity of everything we are meant to regard as sane.'

- Joanna Kavenna, author of A Field Guide to Reality


'Singular, incomparable - all the words apply.'

- Quinn Latimer, author of Like a Woman: Essays, Readings, Poems


'Annie Ernaux is long overdue to be recognised in Britain as one of the most important writers in contemporary France, and this edition of The Years ought to do the trick. Originally published there in 2008, it was immediately heralded as Ernaux's masterpiece, her brief Remembrance of Things Past. It has been expertly rendered into English by Alison Strayer, who captures all the shadings of Ernaux's prose, all its stops and starts, its changes in pace and in tone, its chatterings, its silences.'

- Lauren Elkin, The Guardian
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About Annie Ernaux

Born in 1940, Annie Ernaux grew up in Normandy, studied at Rouen University, and later taught at secondary 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. The Years won the Prix Renaudot in France in 2008, the Premio Strega in Italy in 2016, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2019. In 2017, Annie Ernaux was awarded the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her life's work.
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Rating details

5,579 ratings
4.17 out of 5 stars
5 42% (2,317)
4 40% (2,207)
3 15% (819)
2 3% (181)
1 1% (55)
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