Patrick Modiano

Patrick Modiano is a French-language author and playwright and winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature.

He is a winner of the 1972 Grand prix du roman de l’Académie française, and the 1978 Prix Goncourt for his novel “Rue des boutiques obscures”.

Modiano’s parents met in occupied Paris during World War II and began a clandestine relationship. Modiano’s childhood took place in a unique atmosphere: with an absent father — of which he heard troubled stories of dealings with the Vichy regime — and a Flemish-actress mother who frequently toured. His younger brother’s sudden death also greatly influenced his writings.

While he was at Henri-IV lycee, he took geometry lessons from writer Raymond Queneau, who was a friend of Modiano’s mother. He entered the Sorbonne, but did not complete his studies.

Queneau, the author of “Zazie dans le métro”, introduced Modiano to the literary world via a cocktail party given by publishing house Éditions Gallimard. Modiano published his first novel, “La Place de l’Étoile”, with Gallimard in 1968, after having read the manuscript to Raymond Queneau. Starting that year, he did nothing but write.

On September 12, 1970, Modiano married Dominique Zerhfuss. “I have a catastrophic souvenir of the day of our marriage. It rained. A real nightmare. Our groomsmen were Queneau, who had mentored Patrick since his adolescence, and Malraux, a friend of my father. They started to argue about Dubuffet, and it was like we were watching a tennis match! That said, it would have been funny to have some photos, but the only person who had a camera forgot to bring a roll of film. There is only one photo remaining of us, from behind and under an umbrella!” (Interview with Elle, 6 October 2003). From their marriage came two girls, Zina (1974) and Marie (1978).

Modiano has mentioned on Oct 9, 2014, during an interview with La Grande Librairie, that one of the books which had a great impact on his writing life was ‘Le cœur est un chasseur solitaire’ (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter), the first novel published by Carson McCullers in 1940.

Author website:

Books (In English) by date of publication:

After the Circus1992
Dora Bruder1997
Pedigree: A Memoir2005
Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas2014
So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood2015
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