Patrick Modiano

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Patrick Modiano (Italian: Patrizio Modiano; born 30 July 1945) is a French novelist. He is a winner of the Grand prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1972, the Prix Goncourt in 1978 for his novel Rue des boutiques obscures. Modiano was honored with the prestigious 2010 Prix mondial Cino Del Duca by the Institut de France for his lifetime achievement and most recently the 2012 Austrian State Prize for European Literature.


Modiano was born in Boulogne-Billancourt of a father of Jewish Italian origins and a Belgian mother, Louisa Colpijn (actress also known as Louisa Colpeyn). Modiano's parents met in occupied Paris during World War II and began their relationship in semi-clandestinity. Modiano's childhood took place in a unique atmosphere: between the absence of his father—of which he heard many troubled stories—and his mother's frequent tours, he had to complete his secondary education by government aid. This brought him closer to his brother, Rudy, who died of a disease at age 10 (the works of Patrick Modiano from 1967 to 1982 are dedicated to him). This disappearance announced the end of the author's childhood, who continued to hold a marked nostalgia for this period.

Modiano studied at the École du Montcel primary school in Jouy-en-Josas, at the Collège Saint-Joseph de Thônes in Haute-Savoie, and then at the Lycée Henri-IV high school in Paris. While he was at Henri-IV, he took geometry lessons from writer Raymond Queneau, who was a friend of Modiano's mother. He received his baccalaureate at Annecy but didn't proceed with his higher education.

His meeting with Queneau, the author of Zazie dans le métro, was crucial. Modiano was introduced to the literary world by Queneau, and this gave him the opportunity to attend a cocktail party given by publishing house Éditions Gallimard. He published his first novel, La Place de l’Étoile, with them in 1968, after having read the manuscript to Raymond Queneau. Starting that year, he did nothing but write.

The 2010 release of the German translation of La Place de l'Étoile won Modiano the German Preis der SWR-Bestenliste (Prize of the Southwest Radio Best-of List) from the Südwestrundfunk radio station, which hails the book as a major Post-Holocaust work.[1] The 42-year delay of the book's translation to German — surprising in that most of Modiano's works are translated to that language[2] — is due to its highly controversial and at times satirically antisemitic content. La Place de l'Étoile has not yet been published in English.

In 1973, Modiano co-wrote the screenplay of Lacombe Lucien, a movie directed by Louis Malle which focuses on the involvement of a boy in the "French Gestapo", after being refused to join the French Resistance. The movie caused controversy due to the lack of justification of the main character's political involvement.

On 12 September 1970 Modiano married Dominique Zerhfuss. "I have a catastrophic souvenir of the day of our marriage. It rained. A real nightmare. Our groomsmen were Queneau, who had mentored Patrick since his adolescence, and Malraux, a friend of my father. They started to argue about Dubuffet, and it was like we were watching a tennis match! That said, it would have been funny to have some photos, but the only person who had a camera forgot to bring the film. There is only one photo remaining of us, from behind and under an umbrella!" (Interview with Elle, 6 October 2003). From their marriage came two girls, Zina (1974) and Marie (1978).



Based upon Novels

  • Une jeunesse (from novel of same title) directed by Moshé Mizrahi, 1983
  • Le parfum d’Yvonne (from novel Villa triste) directed by Patrice Leconte, 1994



  1. ^ "SWR Best-of-List Critic's Prize" (in German)
  2. ^ "List of Modiano's and Modiano-related works at the German National Library
  • Jean-Louis de Rambures, interview with Patrick Modiano (in French) in: "Comment travaillent les écrivains", Paris 1978

Further reading[edit]

  • Dervila Cook: Patrick Modiano's (Auto)Biographical Fictions. Rodopi, Amsterdam & New York 2005 ISBN 90-420-1884-4
  • Martine Guyot-Bender & William VanderWolk: Paradigms of Memory: The Occupation and Other Hi-Stories in the Novels of Patrick Modiano. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 1998 ISBN 0-8204-3864-2
  • Akane Kawakami: A Self-Conscious Art: Patrick Modiano's Postmodern Fictions. Liverpool University Press 2000 ISBN 0-85323-526-0 (Hardback) und ISBN 0-85323-536-8 (Paperback)
  • Alan Morris: Patrick Modiano. Oxford 1996 ISBN 1-85973-098-1 (Cloth) ISBN 1-85973-004-3 (Paper)
  • William VanderWolk: Rewriting the Past. Memory, History and Narration in the Novels of Patrick Modiano. Rodopi, Amsterdam 1997 ISBN 90-420-0179-8

External links[edit]