cover image Getting Lost

Getting Lost

Annie Ernaux, trans. from the French by Alison L. Strayer. Seven Stories, $18.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-64421-219-6

In this entrancing work, French writer Ernaux (The Years) relives the passionate yet devastating memories of a whirlwind affair through her own diary entries. From November 1989 to April 1990, when she was a writer and teacher living in Paris, Ernaux became besotted with a married Russian diplomat at the Soviet embassy. Set against the political, social, and literary events that defined the parameters of their relationship, Ernaux’s narrative traces her secret love affair with “Mr. S,” a man 13 years her junior, as she recalls falling under S’s narcissistic hold (“a lovely hell”) and the “state of nameless terror” she endures between his phone calls and brief visits. Their affair revives old and painful memories that threaten her self-worth: an abortion in 1964, a failed marriage, and recurring dreams of her mother’s death. Ernaux’s writing is astonishingly candid as she illustrates the ways loss, heartache, and love intersect with her craft as a writer: “I am consumed with desire.... I want perfection in love, as I believe I attained a kind of perfection in writing with A Woman’s Story. That can only happen through giving, while throwing all caution to the wind. I’m already well on my way.” Fans will relish every scintillating detail. (Sept.)