Reactions to Nobel Prize Winner Patrick Modiano

patrick modiano

The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced today. It wasn’t Murakami or Ngũgĩ—names that people had eagerly bet on—but a French author by the name of Patrick Modiano. The Prize citation noted that he was picked for his masterful execution of “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation” (his novels often take place in the WWII era, Nazi-occupied France). Here are a collection of reactions to the announcement from various news outlets—some congratulatory and some disgruntled.

The New Yorker

So it is—and Ladbrokes, the venerable British gambling establishment, is giving odds on forty-six writers. At the top of the list right this minute is Ngugi wa Thiong’o, with Haruki Murakami a tight second. (Update: In the end, the winner was Patrick Modiano, a long shot.) — Philip Gourevitch

BBC News

Patrick Modiano has been a national literary treasure in France for decades. But up until now, he has also been one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Only a handful of his 25-odd novels have been translated into English. — Henri Astier

The Literary Saloon

They’ve announced that Patrick Modiano is the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.

Modiano has long been mentioned as a contender—and some betting interest did put his odds up in contender-territory at 10/1 (as I mentioned yesterday, I figured it was likely he was among the five finalists)—but this still comes as a bit of a surprise/shock/disappointment to me. — M.A.Orthofer

New York Times

In choosing Mr. Modiano, the academy seems to be shrugging off criticism that the literature prize has often been too Eurocentric and tipped toward lesser-known writers who focus on political themes. The Nobel committee has drawn criticism in the past for shunning authors whose works are widely read in favor of more obscure writers. The selection of Ms. Munro last year was celebrated by many in the literary community as a sign that the academy was embracing more mainstream and popular authors. — Alexandra Alter & Dan Bilefsky

The Atlantic

A master of fiction about memory and loss, fewer than half his works have been translated into English . . . . The British betting firm Ladbrokes had Modiano as the joint-fourth favorite for the award last night. — Noah Gordon

The Millions

In the type of surprise move many Nobel watchers have become accustomed to, the committee has awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature to French novelist Patrick Modiano, a writer with a deep body of work, but one who was not among the “favorites” discussed in the flurry of pre-announcement speculation . . .

While Modiano’s novels have been published in English translations over the years, including by major publishers like Knopf, only a handful of his 25 or so books are currently in print in the U.S. These include Honeymoon and Catherine Certitude, a children’s book, illustrated by Sempe. Yale will be releasing a new edition next year that collects three Modiano novellas under the title Suspended Sentences.

Washington Post

Missing Person [a Modiano novel] is published in the United States by a small indie press owned by David R. Godine. This morning, Godine missed the Nobel announcement because he was in Dublin, N.H., staking his dahlias in the garden. Reached by phone, he exclaimed, “This means we’ll be ahead this year!”

Modiano is the second French Nobel winner that Godine publishes. Years ago, he went to the Frankfurt Book Festival and asked, “Who are the great writers who have never been published in English?” He signed Modiano and J. M. G. Le Clézio, who won the Nobel in 2008.” — Ron Charles

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