‘Ladivine,’ by Marie NDiaye

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-05-09 13:34Z by Steven

‘Ladivine,’ by Marie NDiaye

Book Review
The New York Times

Patrick McGrath

By Marie NDiaye
Translated by Jordan Stump
276 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95.

Marie NDiaye is the author of more than a dozen plays and works of fiction. Currently living in Berlin, having left France in 2009, by her own account in disgust at Nicolas Sarkozy’s election to the presidency, she is the daughter of a French mother and a Senegalese father. As yet, she is little known in this country, although at least four of her previous books — including “Three Strong Women,” which won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt, and “Rosie Carpe,” winner of the Prix Femina — have been translated into English.

NDiaye’s new novel, “Ladivine,” has been elegantly translated by Jordan Stump. It is a work of immense power and mystery, an account of four generations of women, the first of whom, Ladivine Sylla, immigrates from a tropical third-world country to France, where she works as a house cleaner. Her daughter, Malinka, is ashamed of her. As a teenager, Malinka heightens the natural pallor of her face with makeup in order to pass for white, and later she reinvents herself as Clarisse, finding a French husband and taking his name, becoming Clarisse Rivière. She visits her mother in secret, allowing no contact with either her husband or her daughter. This ambivalent relationship is one she both sustains and repudiates…

Read the entire review here.

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