Patrick Modiano, a French historical novelist whose work has often focused on World War II and the 1940s, won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday.
The prize was awarded “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation,” the Swedish Academy said.
The Nobel, one of the most prestigious and financially generous awards in the world, comes with a $1.1 million prize. The literature prize is given out for a lifetime of writing rather than for a single work.
Mr. Modiano, who has published about 30 works, has written novels, children’s books and screenplays, first rose to prominence in 1968 with his novel “La Place de l’Étoile.”
Many of his fictional works are set in Paris during World War II, and some play with the detective genre. His works have been translated around the world, and about a dozen of his books have been translated into English, but he is not widely known outside France.
In a news conference after the announcement, Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, called Mr. Modiano, “a Marcel Proust of our time,” noting that his works resonate with one another thematically and are “always variations of the same thing, about memory, about loss, about identity about seeking.”