The Black Notebook
By Patrick Modiano
A nocturnal wander through the hazes of memory and the mysteries of the past from Patrick Modiano, Nobel Laureate 2014
A writer discovers a set of notes in his notebook and sets off on a journey through the Paris of his past, in search of the woman he loved forty years previously.
Set in the Montparnasse district of Paris, the author, Jean, retraces his nocturnal footsteps around the left bank during France's period of decolonisation during the 1960's. He tries to remember what brought him into contact with a gang that frequented the hotel Unic in the area. His quest through seedy cafés and cheap hotels becomes an enquiry into a woman, Dannie, whom Jean loved and who once tried to admit to a terrible crime. Over the course of several voyages between past and present, we meet various shady characters, and discover that Dannie may have killed "someone". As his memories overlap with the discovery of an old vice squad dossier, Jean reinvestigates the closed case of a crime where he could well be the last remaining witness.
Translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti
Patrick Modiano was born in Paris, France in 1945. He was the recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. He previously won the 2012 Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the 2010 Prix mondial Cino Del Duca from the Institut de France for lifetime achievement, the 1978 Prix Goncourt for Rue des boutiques obscures, and the 1972 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française for Les Boulevards de ceinture.
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- Publication date:
07 Jan 2016
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Never before has Modiano produced a novel as lyrical as this ... the Baroque excess and violence of his earlier works has given way to a more pared-down, modest style that is both intricately wrought and magnificently fluid, sustained by pure poetry — Denis Cosnard, Le Monde
1960's Paris, a mysterious girl, a group of shady characters, danger ... Modiano's folklore is set out from the beginning of The Black Notebook. And sheer magic follows once more — Nelly Kaprièlian, Vogue
One can open this novel at any page, as if flicking through a collection of prose poems ... the smallest passage is enough to transport its reader. A rare, undefinable pleasure — Norbert Czarny, Quinzaine Littéraire
Modiano takes up his struggle with memory again, resuscitating people and places in one magnificent, impressionistic, tracking shot — Marianne Payot, Express
Modiano's characters are deliberately elusive, his settings, by contrast, scrupulously and atmospherically drawn — Lucy Popescu, Financial Times
A compelling meditation on identity and memory, and an evocative portrait of [Paris] — The Lady