An enthralling reflection on the ways that family history influences identity, from the 2014 Nobel laureate for literature
A mix of autobiography and lucid invention, this highly personal work offers a deeply affecting exploration of the meaning of identity and pedigree. With his signature blend of candor, mystery, and bewitching elusiveness, Patrick Modiano weaves together a series of interlocking stories from his family history: his parents’ courtship in occupied Paris; a sinister hunting trip with his father; a chance friendship with the deposed King Farouk; a wistful affair with the daughter of a nightclub singer; and the author’s life as a new parent.
Modiano’s riveting vignettes, filled with a coterie of dubious characters—Nazi informants, collaborationist refugees, and black-market hustlers—capture the drama that consumed Paris during World War II and its aftermath. Written in tones ranging from tender nostalgia to the blunt cruelty of youth, this is a personal and revealing book that brings the enduring significance of a complicated past to life.