The fear of 'forgetting' that drives French Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano

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It is an October evening in Paris. A giant silhouette, dressed in a beige raincoat, makes its way towards the Théâtre National de la Colline in the city's 20th arrondissement or district, where Inrocks magazine was holding its literary festival. It is 2007, though the year hardly matters, nor in fact does the location. The man has his hands in his pockets and his gaze lowered towards the pavement where his shadow seems to stretch into infinity.

In a few minutes Patrick Modiano will find himself in front of a packed hall to speak about his latest novel, Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue ('In the café of lost youth'). The kind of appearance he hates making and which he agrees to do only on rare occasions. Coming out of the shadows, speaking about himself in the first person, carrying out an autopsy on his own work...existing in the present. It is hell for a man who has never lived other than through his previous lives.