Agota Kristof was born in the countryside of Hungary in 1935 (between World War I and World War II). The place where and the time when she was born made her life harsh.
After World War I Hungary became independent from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In World War II Hungary fought with Nazi Germany and after the war Hungary came under the control of the Soviet Union. The destiny of Hungary and Agota Kristof was full of sufferings.
When the Hungarian rising happened in 1956, she escaped from Hungary to Swiss. At that time she could only speak Hungarian and she began to learn French while working at a small factory in the countryside.
In 1986 her first novel "Le Grand Cahier (the Notebook)", which was written in French, was published and was highly regarded. I don't know how she had lived in these 30 years.
She wrote in the end of "L'analphabète" as follows. (I wasn't able to obtain English translation of this novel, so I translated it from Japanese translation.)
I know that I will never be able to write in French as well as native French authors, but I will try to write the best thing that I can write.
I have not chosen this language. The destiny happened to impose this language on me by chance.
I cannot avoid writing in French. This is a challenge.
Yes, it is a challenge of an "analphabète".
I'm really lucky that I don't have to escape from Japan, but if I want to communicate with people overseas, I have to use English. In fact I don't have any other choices, much like how Agota had to use French to express her own thoughts.
I'm also an "analphabète" of English but I try to connect to the world through "English".