Anne F. Garréta is the first member of the Oulipo to be born after the founding of the Oulipo. A normalien (graduate of France’s prestigious École normale supérieure) and lecturer at the University of Rennes II since 1995, Anne F. Garréta was co-opted into the Oulipo in April 2000. She also teaches at Duke University as a Research Professor of Literature and Romance Studies. Her first novel, Sphinx (Grasset, 1986), hailed by critics, tells a love story between two people without giving any indication of grammatical gender for the narrator or the narrator’s love interest, A***. Her second novel, Ciels liquides (Grasset, 1990), told the fate of a character losing the use of language. In La Décomposition (Grasset, 1999), a serial killer methodically murders characters from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. She met Oulipian Jacques Roubaud in Vienna in 1993, and was invited to present her work at an Oulipo seminar in March 1994 and again in May 2000, which led to her joining the Oulipo. She won France’s prestigious Prix Médicis in 2002, awarded each year to an author whose “fame does not yet match their talent” (she is the second Oulipian to win the award–Georges Perec won in 1978), for her latest book, Pas un jour (Grasset, 2002).
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Not One Day, winner of the prestigious Prix Médicis, begins with the maxim: “Not one day without a woman.” What follows is renowned Oulipo member Anne Garréta’s intimate, erotic, and sometimes bitter collection of memories, written under strict constraints, with each chapter written each day describing a past lover or love, exploring the interaction between memory, fantasy, and desire.
Sphinx is a remarkable work of literary ingenuity: a beautiful and complex love story between two characters, the narrator, “I,” and A., written completely without any gendered pronouns or gender markers referring to the main characters, all the more difficult with the strict gender requirements of the French language.