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French writer Patrick Modiano wins 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature

French writer Patrick Modiano won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature Thursday. He has published around 30 works, many of which deal with the Nazi’s occupation of Paris.

The Swedish Academy said they awarded Modiano the prize “For the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

One of the most renowned prizes in the world, the Nobel is also one of the more financially generous awards at 8 million kronor or $1.1 million. Writers are awarded the literature prize not for a single piece, but for their lifetime of work.

In the past, such prestigious literary figures have won the award as Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck, Pablo Neruda and Alice Monroe.

Modiano, 69, was born in a suburb of Paris in 1945. His Belgian mother worked as an actress and his Jewish-Italian father was a businessman who was often absent.

Modiano’s debut novel, “La Place de L’Etoile,” was published in 1968 to considerable attention. Ten years later, he won the Prix Goncourt, a prestigious French literature prize, for his novel “Missing Person.” Over the past 46 years, the writer went on to compose more than just novels, adding children’s books and screenplays to his repertoire. In 1974, in conjunction with film director Louis Malle, Modiano created the feature-length film “Lacombe Lucien,” also set during the German occupation.

Many of his books take on autobiographical elements and he has been known to incorporate source material, such as interviews, newspaper articles or his notes from over the years. “Un pedigree,” published in 2005, is known as essentially a work of autobiography.