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Short biography
Patrick Modiano was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb of Paris, France, at the end of World War II. His parents were Albert Modiano, of Italian Jewish origin, and Louisa Colpijn, a Flemish Belgian actress. They were unmarried and separated shortly after Patrick's birth. He had a tumultuous and peripatetic childhood, his parents being frequently absent, and lived partly with his paternal grandparents and at various boarding schools around France. After leaving the Lyée Henri-IV in Paris, he roamed around the city selling used or stolen books to earn a living and writing his first novel, La Place de l'Etoile, published to acclaim in May 1968. It became the first book in what is known as The Occupation Trilogy, with La Ronde de nuit (1969; English translation: The Night Watch) and Les Boulevards de ceinture (1972; English translation: Ring Roads). In his three dozen subsequent novels, Modiano has returned again and again to autobiographical elements and the same basic themes: the pull of the past, the threat of disappearance, the blurring of moral boundaries. He won the Prix Goncourt in 1978 for his novel Rue des boutiques obscures (English translation: Missing Person) and the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1972 for Les Boulevards de ceinture. However, when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014, practically no one outside of France had heard of him because the vast majority of his work was not available in other languages. He has also written the screenplays for three films: Lacombe, Lucien (1974), Une jeunesse (1983), and Bon voyage (2003). His memoir of childhood, Un pedigree (Pedigree) first appeared in French in 2004.
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