Ernaux's account of her passionate love affair with A., a man some 30 years younger, when she was in her fifties. The relationship pulls her back to memories of her own youth and at the same time leaves her feeling ageless, outside of time-together with a sense that she is living her life backwards.
That Ernaux can do so much — The Young Man tackles love, aging, desire, loss, misogyny, class and death — in such a small space is clearly the hallmark of a writer who has honed her craft to be razor sharp. It cuts to the bone.
A romance on its face, The Young Man gathers singularity and texture as an account of manifold transits: between youth and age, living and dying, in and out of passion, passing through menopause, and from Ernaux’s impoverished beginnings through her ascension into the literary bourgeoisie ... Ernaux, in turn, intermixes these ensouled sediments with the specters of the personal—her memories, the stuff of one woman’s experience.