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Sunday, July 30, 2023

'Becoming visible, bit by bit'


“Something happens between a novel and its reader which is similar to the process of developing photographs, the way they did it before the digital age.  The photograph, as it was printed in the darkroom, became visible bit by bit.  As you read your way through a novel, the same chemical process takes place.” – Patrick Modiano


French novelist and 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Modiano was born on this date in 1945.   His analogy of the development of the novel “before our eyes” is a remarkable one that also gives us a bit of a look into his writing style.  He lets the picture slowly unfold, sometimes leaving us startled, sometimes satisfied, sometimes angry, but always interested in what’s coming next.


His novels delve into the puzzle of identity in ways seldom seen.   And, he tackles a time in France – the German occupation during World War II – that evokes both heroism and shame depending on whose point of view his tale is being told. 

In addition to the Nobel, Mondiano has been honored with every major European and French writing award including one for his life’s body of work.   He said he writes a few hours every day.


“The more things remain obscure and mysterious,” Modiano said, “the more they interest me.  I even try to find mystery in things that have none.”

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