Modiano's debut novel is a sardonic, often grotesque satire of France during the Nazi occupation. We are immediately plunged into the hallucinatory imagination of Raphael Schlemilovitch, a young Jewish man, torn between self-aggrandisement and self-loathing, who may be the heir to a Venezuelan fortune, may have lived during the Nazi Occupation, may have rubbed shoulders with the most notorious collaborators and anti-Semites of the time, may even have been the lover of Eva Braun... or he may have been none of these things. But at the centre of this vortex is `La Place de l'Etoile' - the Place of the Star - which is both the geographical and moral centre of Paris, and that place next the heart where French Jews were compelled to wear the yellow star, the symbol of their persecution.
Patrick Modiano was born in Paris in 1945 in the immediate aftermath of World War Two and the Nazi occupation of France, a dark period which continues to haunt him. After passing his baccalaureat, he left full-time education and dedicated himself to writing, encouraged by the French writer Raymond Queneau. From his very first book to his most recent, Modiano has pursued a quest for identity and some form of reconciliation with the past. His books have been published in forty languages and among the many prizes they have won are the Grand Prix du Roman de l'Academie francaise (1972), the Prix Goncourt (1978) and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (2012). In 2014 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.