Look at the Lights, My Love

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UPC: 9780300268218
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Authors: Annie Ernaux
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Yale University Press (April 4, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 96 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0300268211
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0300268218

A revelatory meditation on class and consumer culture, from 2022 Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux
“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.


“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

“[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

“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

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 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, 

“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

“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

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 YearsA Woman’s StoryA Man’s PlaceShame, and Simple PassionAlison L. Strayer is an award-winning writer and translator.