Things Seen


Things Seen

Annie Ernaux
Translated by Jonathan Kaplansky
Foreword by Brian Evenson

French Voices Series

106 pages


March 2010


$30.00 Add to Cart

March 2010


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature

“Annie Ernaux’s work,” wrote Richard Bernstein in the New York Times, “represents a severely pared-down Proustianism, a testament to the persistent, haunting and melancholy quality of memory.” In the New York Times Book Review, Kathryn Harrison concurred: “Keen language and unwavering focus allow her to penetrate deep, to reveal pulses of love, desire, remorse.”
In this “journal” Ernaux turns her penetrating focus on those points in life where the everyday and the extraordinary intersect, where “things seen” reflect a private life meeting the larger world. From the war crimes tribunal in Bosnia to social issues such as poverty and AIDS; from the state of Iraq to the world’s contrasting reactions to Princess Diana’s death and the starkly brutal political murders that occurred at the same time; from a tear-gas attack on the subway to minute interactions with a clerk in a store: Ernaux’s thought-provoking observations map the world’s fleeting and lasting impressions on the shape of inner life.

Author Bio

Annie Ernaux, winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in 1940 in Lillebonne, France. Ernaux's autobiographical narrative, La Place, won the Prix Renaudot, and her books, A Woman’s Story and A Man’s Place, were named New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Ernaux’s most recent novel, Les Années, is widely considered one of her greatest works. She is the author of Do What They Say or Else (Nebraska, 2022). Jonathan Kaplansky has translated numerous works, including Hélène Dorion's novel Days of Sand and Hélène Rioux's novel Wednesday Night at the End of the World. Brian Evenson is a professor and director of the Literary Arts Program at Brown University. He is the author of Altmann’s Tongue (available in a Bison Books edition) and, most recently, Last Days and Fugue State.


"Annie Ernaux was blogging about her daily life long before the blog was invented. If anyone can raise it to an art form, she can. . . . This is a beautiful translation."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Discoveries

“Annie Ernaux somehow succeeds in expressing the personal, whether it be . . . a description of her terror during a tear-gas attack in the subway, or her references to the importance of the role of writing in her own life. . . . It successfully compels the reader to reflect critically on our current era.”—E. Nicole Meyer, World Literature Today

"Like a poet, Ernaux writes with dense, image-packed language; like a novelist, she seeks compelling characters to appear and disappear throughout her text."—Rachel Mennies, ForeWord Reviews

"Readers unafraid of mixing the personal and political, as in the works of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, will glean much here. And memoir readers of a more traditional bent may look at the world quite differently after savoring this book."—Travis Fristoe, Library Journal

"Beautiful and powerful."—Alison McCulloch, New York Times Book Review

La Vie extérieure bears witness to the desire, the need to capture life, even the insignificant. It attests to the memory that we have of others, including strangers, and in whom Annie Ernaux searches for and recognizes herself. La Vie extérieure is also a book of assessment and indignation. The writer reacts to human distress, war, poverty, and to the arrogance of power.”—Johanne Jarry, Le Devoir (Montreal)

La Vie extérieure perfectly illustrates writing’s raison d’être. . . . Annie Ernaux transcribes scenes from the RER, the welfare office, and the check-out at the supermarket; things noted on television and radio; insignificant gestures and words that bring the writer’s agitation, indignation, and anger to the surface.”—Christine Rousseau, Le Monde (Paris)

Table of Contents



Winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature
A French Voices selection of the PEN American Center and French Embassy for quality translation of important contemporary French literature.

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