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French writer Patrick Modiano wins the Nobel Prize

Patrick Modiano

The French writer Patrick Modiano has been awarded the Nobel Prize. Modiano was born in 1945, to a Belgian actress mother and an Italian-Jewish father. His first novel, La Place de L’Etoile, about a Jewish collaborator in World War II, was published in 1968. (His father reportedly so disapproved that he tried to buy up all the copies.) Modiano has published more than twenty-five books since, among them Missing Person, Out of the Dark, and Dora Bruder. "I prefer not to read my early books," he said in 2010. "Not that I don't like them, but I don't recognize myself anymore, like an old actor watching himself as a young leading man."

Philip Roth wasn't expecting the prize. If he'd wanted to win it, he told the New York Times, he would have called Portnoy's Complaint "The Orgasm Under Rapacious Capitalism." Dwight Garner points out that the Nobel committee's blind spot is "mostly for wit."

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