by Annie Ernaux
In her autobiographical memoir «A Girl’s Story», published in 2016, the French writer Annie Ernaux attempts to understand a deeply formative experience in her own life. What happened to her, a young woman aged 18 at the time, in the summer of 1958? Between fragments of memories, diary entries, letters and decades-old photos, the author undertakes an almost forensic analysis of what happened, its effects and the social frameworks and sexual double standards that grant or refuse entirely different forms of «freedom» to men and women respectively. «A Girl’s Story» shows an almost 80-year-old woman painfully confronting sexual shame, impotence and self-empowerment and is – shortly before the #MeToo movement arose – a touching and highly political document of putting an end to silence.
«She is intoxicated by her freedom, the extent of her freedom.»
Annie Ernaux, born in Normandy in 1940, is one of the leading French writers of the present day. In her books, an unsparing scrutiny investigates structures of repression and emancipation created by class, background and gender. Her literary method of auto-fiction is a fixed reference point for the sociological and literary works of class-conscious, political writers such as Didier Eribon and Édouard Louis.