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Ernaux's latest book to be translated into English (after Simple Passion: A Woman's Story) is the story of an all-consuming jealousy-a self-portrait whose spare 64 pages sketch the life cycle of a possession. A woman has left a man "as much out of boredom as from an inability to give up [her] freedom." The relationship may have been forgettable, but the narrator finds the idea of the man being with another woman unbearable, and her life is soon eclipsed by an obsession with that nameless, faceless woman. Occupation, the title of the original French edition, more clearly elucidates this state with its double entendre: the narrator is both engaged and possessed. While actively cultivating the obsession, the narrator is also very much concerned with chronicling it; this work is as much about the act of writing the novella as it is about the six months it recounts. Clearly for sophisticated readers.
—Karen Walton Morse