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Irene Nemirovsky

First censored and then killed during the Holocaust, novelist Irène Némirovsky finally achieved the recognition she deserved long after her death. Némirovsky’s family fled the Russian Revolution and settled in France in 1919. She studied at the Sorbonne and began writing at eighteen. She married a banker in 1926 and published her first novel, L’Enfant Genial, in 1927. Her next two novels, David Golder in 1929 and Le Bal in 1930, were great successes and were adapted for the screen. Despite her literary achievements (fourteen novels in thirteen years) and popular acclaim, she struggled with anti–Semitism and converted to Catholicism in 1939. Némirovsky fled the Nazi invasion of Paris for the countryside, and after 1940 she could no longer publish her work. In 1942 she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where she died of typhus. In 1990 her older daughter discovered several notebooks containing manuscripts and published Suite Française, a novel about the invasion of Paris. It was surprisingly polished and nuanced, considering both that it was incomplete and that Némirovsky had written it during the war, with no chance for later reflection. The novel won the Prix Renaudot, a first for a posthumous author.

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Irene Nemirovsky.
Courtesy of Nathalie Proth, Paris
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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Irene Nemirovsky." (Viewed on December 13, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/nemirovsky-irene>.


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