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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for The Use of Photography
Book cover for The Use of Photography


An account of Annie Ernaux’s love affair with journalist Marc Marie while she was undergoing treatment for cancer, and their combined project to document images and memories.

Includes 14 color photographs by the authors.

Love and death cohabit in The Use of Photography. First published in France in 2005, the book recounts a passionate love affair between Ernaux and the journalist and author Marc Marie, after the two met in January 2003. Ernaux had been receiving intensive chemo for breast cancer during the prior three months, and had lost all her hair from the treatments. At the end of January she had surgery, followed by radiation therapy.

The affair took place in different locations and Ernaux describes how, shortly after it began, she found herself entranced each morning by the sight of clothes strewn about, chairs out of place and the remains of their last meal of the evening still on the table—and how painful it felt to put things back in order afterward. She went and got her camera, and began to take photographs of the scenes of disarray. When she told Marc Marie what she had done, he said he had felt the same desire.

The Use of Photography is one of the quintessential Ernaux books, told primarily through words in Ernaux’s inimitable style, which is adopted here by both authors, and with their photographs adding another lens through which to capture the story.

Book cover for The Use of Photography
Book cover for The Use of Photography

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Annie Ernaux

The author of some twenty works of fiction and memoir, ANNIE ERNAUX is considered by many to be France’s most important writer. In 2022, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She has also won the Prix Renaudot for A Man's Place and the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for her body of work. More recently she received the International Strega Prize, the Prix Formentor, the French-American Translation Prize, and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for The Years, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Her other works include Exteriors, A Girl's Story, A Woman's Story, The Possession, Simple Passion, HappeningI Remain in DarknessShameA Frozen WomanA Man's Place, and The Young Man

Alison L. Strayer

Alison L. Strayer is a Canadian writer and translator. She won the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, and her work has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Literature and for Translation, the Grand Prix du livre de Montreal, the Prix littéraire France-Québec, and the Man Booker International Prize. She lives in Paris.

Other books by Annie Ernaux