(Jean Patrick Modiano) zhäN pätrēk´ mōdyänō´ [key]
, 1945–, French novelist. He has been acclaimed for his treatment of memory, loss, and the puzzle of identity in novels that frequently recreate the lives of ordinary Parisians during the Nazi occupation in World War II. Modiano came to critical attention with his first novel, La Place de l'Etoile
(1968); since then he has written more than 25 novels. Widely read in France, he is perhaps best known in English-speaking countries for the screenplay he cowrote with Louis Malle
for the film Lacombe Lucien
(1974; Academy Award, best foreign film), the story of a young man torn between loyalty to the Nazi occupiers with whom he is collaborating and his love for a local Jewish girl. Modiano's most famous works include Rue des boutiques obscures
(1978, tr. Missing Person,
1980), which tells of an amnesiac's attempt to assemble the components of his identity, and Dora Bruder
(1997, tr. 1999), an investigation into the disappearance of a teenage Jewish girl in 1941. Among his other novels in English translation are Les boulevards de ceinture
(1972, tr. Ring Roads,
1974), Voyage de noces
(1990, tr. Honeymoon,
1992), Du plus loin de l'oubli
(1995, tr. Out of the Dark,
1998), Accident nocturne
(2003, tr. Paris Nocturne,
2015), and Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier
(2014, tr. So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood,
2015). Three of his semiautobiographical novellas (1988–93) were translated in Suspended Sentences
(2014); each is about memory and set in 1950s and 60s Paris. He also has written other screenplays, e.g., Bon Voyage
(2003), and children's books, e.g., Catherine Certitude
(1988, tr. 2000). In 2014 Modiano was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
See his Un pedigree (2005, tr. Pedigree: A Memoir, 2014), an account of his origins; studies by A. Morris (1996), M. Guyot-Bender and W. VanderWolk, ed. (1998), and A. Kawakami (2000).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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