Patrick Autréaux - L'école buissonnière, a doctor takes his leave... Research Seminar | Thursday 27th April, O’Rahilly Building 1.24, 4pm

20 Apr 2023

Prompted by his work as a doctor, and by his own experience of illness, Patrick Autréaux set out in search of what is ‘true’. Literature was his chosen route. Through writing, he attempts to find a form for the ‘flesh of the world’. And to find an answer to the question of care. If he writes, it’s in order to treat that for which there is no cure.   

Patrick Autréaux (born March 14, 1968) is a French writer who has held appointments as a writer-in-residence at Boston University (2018–2019) and as a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2018). After training in medicine and anthropology, he practised as an emergency-room psychiatrist in Paris and started writing poetry and contemporary art reviews before publishing fiction. 

An early experience with cancer led him to write three books on the topic of illness: Dans la vallée des larmesSoigner and Se survivreDans la vallée des larmes relates the experience of a thirty-five year old doctor coming to terms with a diagnosis of lymphoma.

Soigner is about a patient in remission who resumes his previous role of doctor and cares for his dying grandfather Se survivre consists of seven meditations on the state of illness. 

Since these early writings, his work has developed in new directions: a hidden family drama that unravels during the expulsion of an undocumented person in France (Les Irréguliers), the agitation of a tree shaken by a storm as a metaphor for the loss of a loved one (Le grand vivant) and a narrative retracing Autréaux’s personal journey between medicine and literature (La Voix écrite). 

In 2016, Autréaux published with the Diderot Institute a polemical take on the terrorist attack, “Je suis Charlie, un an après”, written for a round table at Harvard University and Boston University.  

His first novel In the Valley of Tears has been translated into English by Eduardo Febles and published in 2019 at Unconscious in Translation Books.  

He was nominated for the Prix Décembre and Prix Femina for his novel Quand la parole attend la nuit (Verdier, 2019) 

Department of French

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