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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for I Remain in Darkness
Book cover for I Remain in Darkness

Translated by Tanya Leslie

Washington Post Book World Expert Pick for Best Memoir of 1999

An extraordinary evocation of a grown daughter's attachment to her mother, and of both women's strength and resiliency. I Remain in Darkness recounts Annie Ernaux’s attempts first to help her mother recover from Alzheimer's disease, and then, when that proves futile, to bear witness to the older woman's gradual decline and her own experience as a daughter losing a beloved parent. I Remain in Darkness is a new high water mark for Ernaux, surging with raw emotional power and her sublime ability to use language to apprehend her own life's particular music.

Book cover for I Remain in Darkness
Book cover for I Remain in Darkness

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“A testament to the persistent, haunting, and melancholy quality of memory.”

“As always, Ernaux's marriage of opposites—disgust and adoration, revulsion and emulation, dirt-physical and heady-theoretical—takes place on the whitest of pages. Ernaux's opposites rip her in two in spite of her spare languages. . . . [Her] art is in her fight with words.”

“Ernaux courageously bears witness both to complex multiple truths of family relationships and to the fierce persistence of family love.”

“Again blurring the line between memoir and fiction, Ernaux continues the story of her family in journal form … Several recurring themes are woven throughout, notably those of time, art and the relationship between mother and daughter. Like Ernaux's other work (Shame; Simple Passion), this is "not literature" exactly, but "an attempt to salvage part of our lives, to understand, but first to salvage," poignant though limited in its reach.”

“This slim volume by noted French writer Ernaux (Simple Passion) is not a straightforward medical account of her mother's death from Alzheimer's; instead, it is a collection of the notes, in their original form, that Ernaux jotted down at the time of her mother's illness. "When I write down all these things, I scribble away as fast as I can (as if I felt guilty), without choosing my words." Here in their raw, uncensored form are the "vestiges of pain" at the anger, guilt, and grief that Ernaux felt during her mother's two-year decline.”

“Alzheimer’s is a confrontation of time and mortality, and Ernaux charts this passage carefully, refusing to turn away from decay and abjection. And yet, the ritualistic writing, the obsessive recording, do not prepare her for the inevitable…Just as Ernaux legitimizes the self and womanhood through her autobiographies, she legitimizes the experience of the people with Alzheimer’s through detailing the last months of her mother’s life.”

Annie Ernaux

The author of some twenty works of fiction and memoir, ANNIE ERNAUX is considered by many to be France’s most important writer. In 2022, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She has also won the Prix Renaudot for A Man's Place and the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her body of work. More recently she received the International Strega Prize, the Prix Formentor, the French-American Translation Prize, and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for The Years, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Her other works include Exteriors, A Girl's Story, A Woman's Story, The Possession, Simple Passion, HappeningI Remain in DarknessShameA Frozen WomanA Man's Place, and The Young Man

Other books by Annie Ernaux