Athenaeum Book Club: Annie Ernaux, Getting Lost

01 december 2022
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Join us, Thursday December 1st, 7:30 PM at Athenaeum Boekhandel Spui for a book club about Getting Lost, the novel by Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux, translated by Alison L. Strayer. Romy Day Winkel will moderate.

A small fee of € 6,- is charged to all participants, to be able to serve drinks and snacks and make sure the moderator can prepare.

About Getting Lost

The diary of one of France’s most important, award-winning writers during the year she had a passionate and secret love affair with a Russian diplomat.

Getting Lost is the diary Annie Ernaux kept during the year and a half she had a secret love affair with a younger, married man, a Russian diplomat. Her later novel, Simple Passion, was based on this affair, but here her writing is immediate, unfiltered.

In these diaries it is 1989 and Annie is divorced with two grown sons, living outside of Paris and nearing fifty. Her lover escapes the city to meet her there and Ernaux seems to survive only in expectation of these encounters, writing “his desire for me is the only thing I can be sure of.” She cannot write, she trudges distractedly through her various other commitments in the world, she awaits his next call; she lives only to feel desire and for the next rendezvous. When he is gone and the desire has faded, she feels that she is a step closer to death.

Lauded for her spare prose, Ernaux here removes all artifice, her writing pared down to its most naked and vulnerable. 

Getting Lost is as powerful a book as any that she has written, a haunting, desperate view of strong and successful woman who seduces a man only to lose herself in love and desire. Or is Ernaux, in her writing, subverting exactly this supposed dichotomy?

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