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Cabaret performances at the Moulin Rouge continued during Nazi occupation.
Cabaret performances at the Moulin Rouge continued during Nazi occupation.

PARIS – The 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded Thursday to Patrick Modiano, a 69-year-old French author whose work you probably don't know if you aren't from France. Indeed, most of his books have remained untranslated, though that may change after his Nobel win.

The committee in Stockholm cited the author's "art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies." Much of his best-known work centers around the experience in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II.

His French fans here at the Worldcrunch office in Paris speak of "his own genre" …. "really more poetry than prose" … "disappear(ing) into his language."

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With the help of a Babelio fan page, we have collected and translated a small selection of passages from four of his books. The first come from the novel Rue Des Boutiques Obscure that shot him to fame after it was awarded France's Prix Goncourt. It was translated into English with the title Missing Person. The other books are not available in English.

Rue des Boutiques Obscures 1978
"Until then everything had seemed so chaotic, so fragmented... Scraps, shreds of something were coming back to me as a result of my searches. But after all, that is perhaps what a life is."

Vestiaire de l'Enfance(Childhood Locker) 1989
"And this old immortal's secret to a century of longevity, it had to be the utter absense of that organ that tires quickly: the heart."

La Petite Bijou (The Small Jewelry) 2001
"Beware of what we call witnesses."

Un Pedigree (A Pedigree) 2005
"I would like to translate this impression that many others have felt before: everything was passing before me, transparent, and I could not yet live my life."

Dans Le Café de la Jeunesse Perdue (In The Cafe of Lost Youth) 2007
"When you really love someone, you must accept their part of mystery. And that's why you love them."

L'Herbe des Nuits (The Grass of Nights) 2012
"Since I started writing these pages, I've been telling myself that there is a way to fight against oblivion. It's to go to certain parts of Paris where you had not returned for 30, 40 years and stay there the afternoon, as if you were standing guard."

Pour Que Tu Ne Te Perdes Pas Dans Le Quartier (So That You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood) 2014
"Almost nothing. Like an insect's bite that seems like nothing at first. Or at least, that's what you whisper to yourself for reassurance."

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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