Némirovsky, Irène

Némirovsky, Irène, 1903–42, French novelist, b. Kiev. The daughter of a Jewish banker who fled (1918) the Russian Revolution with his family and settled (1919) in Paris, she studied at the Sorbonne, married, and became a writer, publishing nine novels, short stories, and a biography of Chekhov (1936, tr. 1974). She and her family fled the Nazi occupation of Paris for the countryside, but in 1942 she was arrested and transported to Auschwitz, where she was killed. Her husband later also died there; their two daughters survived. In the 1990s one of them finally read a notebook her mother had left behind and discovered two complete parts of a historical novel and plans for three more sections. The first describes the chaotic lives of Parisians fleeing the Germans; the second recounts the occupation of a French village. Published as Suite Française (2004, tr. 2006), the book was acclaimed and became a best seller. Some critics, however, have accused Némirovsky of anti-Semitism, pointing to her unpleasant depiction of Jews in early novels, e.g., David Golder (1929, tr. 2007), and her association with right-wing anti-Jewish French figures and publications. The short novel Chaleur de sang (2007, tr. Fire in the Blood, 2007) was later found among her papers and published.

See biographies by J. Weiss (2005, tr. 2007) and O. Philipponnat and P. Lienhardt (2007, tr. 2010); fictional autobiography by her daughter, E. Gille (1992, tr. 2011); studies by N. Bracher (2010) and A. Kershaw (2010).

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