Orginal title: La Honte
Publication year: 1997 (translated in English in 1998)
My rating: ★★★★★
Shame is a non-fiction story written by French author and feminist Annie Ernaux. I’m studying another one of her books for college, and I love her writing so I decided to read other books she wrote, and I’m absolutely not dissapointed. Most of her books are autobiographical, and she expresses how she always felt different because of her social class, and how hard it can be to live as a woman.
“My father tried to kill my mother on a Sunday, in June…” This is how the book starts, and Ernaux then proceeds to explain the scene. She was only 12 years old, and totally helpess. Through the book, she expresses how hard it was to live with this event always on the back of her mind. She also talks about her social class, which has always been a burden to her, and about her relationships with both her parents.
Each of her books deal with a different event from her life, different times and points of view, so in a way, they complete one another.
I think it’s her masterpiece. I really like her crude writing style, and how the story really immersed me in the character and the hardships she went through.
This book is a bit of a punch in the face. It throws the reader into post WWII rural France, and it has a lot of unexpected parts. I think this book is really important, it really made me think about how we don’t all have the same chances in life, and how everyone doesn’t have it the easy way. And yet, it’s possible to overcome the difficulties. Ernaux doesn’t really mention it in the book, but she got the Renaudot Prize (which is an important literary prize in France) for one of her previous books, and she is also a successful teacher and writer. The prize also allowed her to get some independance after she got a divorce.
But this book doesn’t show the happy times of her life, it just discusses 1952, the year her father tried to kill her mother. Yet it doesn’t talk solely about that event. It shows how it changed her, and how much of a burden it was for her through her life.
Overall, it’s a really great and interesting book, I’m really glad I read it! (And as you may have noticed, I plan on reading more of her books this month!)
People who like non-fiction and/or French Literature!
It’s a rather short book, so if you want to discover something new or out of your confort zone, then I really recommend it!
If you’re curious, you can also check out my review for The Years.