Look at the Lights, My Love (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) (Paperback)

Look at the Lights, My Love (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) By Annie Ernaux, Alison L. Strayer (Translated by) Cover Image
By Annie Ernaux, Alison L. Strayer (Translated by)
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Description


A revelatory meditation on class and consumer culture, from 2022 Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux
 
A New Yorker Best of the Week Pick • A World Literature Today Notable Translation of 2023
 
“Translated from the French with great intelligence and sensitivity by Alison Strayer. . . . Ernaux’s diary is a provocation: to accept these life scenes as worthy of our time and attention.”—Kate Briggs, Washington Post
 
“A dryly charming look at the way the French live now, through the sharp eyes of its most acclaimed chronicler.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
For half a century, the French writer Annie Ernaux has transgressed the boundaries of what stories are considered worth telling, what subjects worth exploring. In this probing meditation, Ernaux turns her attention to the phenomenon of the big-box superstore, a ubiquitous feature of modern life that has received scant attention in literature.
 
Recording her visits to a store near Paris for over a year, she captures the world that exists within its massive walls. Through Ernaux’s eyes, the superstore emerges as “a great human meeting place, a spectacle”—a flashy, technologically advanced incarnation of the ancient marketplace where capitalism, cultural production, and class converge, dictating our rhythms of desire. With her relentless powers of observation, Ernaux takes the measure of a place we thought we knew, calling us to question the experiences we overlook and to gaze more deeply into ordinary life.

About the Author


Annie Ernaux is the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize for Literature. She is the author of more than twenty books, including The Years, A Woman’s Story, A Man’s Place, Shame, and Simple Passion. Alison L. Strayer is an award-winning writer and translator.

Praise For…


“Translated from the French with great intelligence and sensitivity by Alison Strayer. . . . Ernaux’s diary is a provocation: to accept these life scenes as worthy of our time and attention.”—Kate Briggs, Washington Post

A New Yorker Best of the Week Pick

“[Ernaux’s] chief mode is curiosity, translated with perfect, inquisitive casualness by Alison L. Strayer. She peeks into shopping carts, eavesdrops on conversations, notices the gender dynamics of salesmanship.”—Laura Marris, Times Literary Supplement

“[Ernaux] studies the ‘great human meeting place’ of the big-box superstore, keeping a diary of her visits to a mall near Paris and analyzing what it means to confront our desires and those of others in the marketplace.”—New Yorker

“A fascinating read. . . . Ernaux provides an ensemble of potent subtexts dealing with practices and people linked through commerce and commodities.” —Sharmila Purkayastha, The Telegraph (India)

“The subject at the heart of Look at the Lights, My Love is what we reveal of ourselves in the strange sterility of the store. . . . Ernaux’s singular style conveys both the soullessness and the dreamlike charm of the place.”—Tess Little, Literary Review

“What makes Look at the Lights a work of art, rather than a manifesto, is the sheer sensuousness of Ernaux’s language . . . the subtle visual, auditory, and tactile details that fill the pages and lend firsthand credibility to the argument. . . . [Ernaux] reanimates a shared humanity that consumerism has flattened out.”—J. Howard Rosier, The Atlantic

Look at the Lights, My Love plays a formal sleight-of-hand in the best way, with the feel of a dashed-off journal but the felt experience of a deeply philosophical meditation on the nature of shopping, voyeurism, late-stage capitalism, class, race, and desire.”—Adrienne Raphel, Paris Review Daily

A World Literature Today Notable Translation of 2023

“A dryly charming look at the way the French live now, through the sharp eyes of its most acclaimed chronicler.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Ernaux, as always, is endlessly brilliant and incisive as she thinks through ideas of class, consumer culture, working women, and more.”—Pierce Alquist, Book Riot

“This slim book enlarges our sense of ourselves, insisting as it does on how alike we are.”—Michael Autrey, Booklist

“This French writer’s ability to mine her everyday experiences for broader sociological, cultural, and in this case economic significance comes through in nearly every page of this slim volume. . . . I for one will never go through another checkout line—automated or not—without thinking about Annie Ernaux.”—Pat Reber, Arts Fuse

“At once a consideration of class, feminism, and food deserts, Look at the Lights, My Love captures the hyper-acceleration of capital. . . . Every store shelf elicits revelation.”—Grace Byron, Cleveland Review of Books

“[A] tribute to the modern superstore, a site that matches [Ernaux’s] fascination with individual and collective desire . . . inviting us to look through a different window at what we’ve seen before. . . . The fascination of Ernaux’s little book for readers is the inner debate it exposes about what art is, where it belongs, whom it is for, and what a worthy subject it is.”—Catherine Holmes, Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)

“This brief and lovely volume forms a kind of retail diary, documenting Annie Ernaux’s impressions of life within Auchan, a big-box supermarket in the northwest Paris suburbs. She inhabits the space as an animal in a new ecosystem, producing a modern travel writing for those of us whose environments are wrapped in cellophane and offered at a price.”—Orion

“Brief but gripping. . . . Ernaux’s ambivalence for the supercenter is the ambivalence so many of us feel as we subsist in this world, contemplating the systems that intersect at the crossroads of our bodies, most often converging in the pocket where our wallets are kept.”—Laurel Taylor, Asymptote Journal

“An enjoyable take on the odd hub that the superstore is in modern society. . . . Ernaux’s observations make for an appealing little ramble.”—M. A. Orthofer, Complete Review

Praise for the French Edition:
 
“A wonderful addition to Annie Ernaux’s life writings . . . [and] a fascinating contribution to contemporary literature.”—Geneviève Alvarado, World Literature Today
 
“[A] beautiful book. . . . With rigor and tenderness, Annie Ernaux shows herself. . . . If she says ‘I,’ it is to hear others better. From the margins of a suburban superstore, she illuminates the heart of our lives.”—Jean Birnbaum, Le Monde



Product Details
ISBN: 9780300268218
ISBN-10: 0300268211
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: April 4th, 2023
Pages: 96
Language: English
Series: The Margellos World Republic of Letters