Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye

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NDiaye's prose, rendered into mostly supple English by John Fletcher, luxuriates in paragraph-long introspection and occasionally dips into the supernatural.
-NPR

Synopsis

In this new novel, the first by a black woman ever to win the coveted Prix Goncourt, Marie NDiaye creates a luminous narrative triptych as harrowing as it is beautiful.

This is the story of three women who say no: Norah, a French-born lawyer who finds herself in Senegal, summoned by her estranged, tyrannical father to save another victim of his paternity; Fanta, who leaves a modest but contented life as a teacher in Dakar to follow her white boyfriend back to France, where his delusional depression and sense of failure poison everything; and Khady, a penniless widow put out by her husband’s family with nothing but the name of a distant cousin (the aforementioned Fanta) who lives in France, a place Khady can scarcely conceive of but toward which she must now take desperate flight.

With lyrical intensity, Marie NDiaye masterfully evokes the relentless denial of dignity, to say nothing of happiness, in these lives caught between Africa and Europe. We see with stunning emotional exactitude how ordinary women discover unimagined reserves of strength, even as their humanity is chipped away. Three Strong Women admits us to an immigrant experience rarely if ever examined in fiction, but even more into the depths of the suffering heart.
 

About Marie NDiaye

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Marie NDiaye is the recipient of the Prix Femina and the Prix Goncourt, the highest honor a French writer can receive. She is the author of over a dozen plays and works of prose, including Trois femmes puissantes, published as Three Strong Women by FSG in 2012. She lives in Paris.Jordan Stump is a two-time nominee for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He has translated books by Nobel laureate Claude Simon, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Eric Chevillard, and many others. He lives in Lincoln, NE.
 
Published August 7, 2012 by Vintage. 306 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Three Strong Women
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Fernanda Eberstadt on Aug 10 2012

“Three Strong Women” is the poised creation of a novelist unafraid to explore the extremes of human suffering.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Maya Jaggi on Jul 06 2012

It can take a while to acclimatise to NDiaye's style, which incorporates a thread of hallucinatory symbolism about flowers and flight.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Jason Farago on Aug 15 2012

NDiaye's prose, rendered into mostly supple English by John Fletcher, luxuriates in paragraph-long introspection and occasionally dips into the supernatural.

Read Full Review of Three Strong Women | See more reviews from NPR

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans on Aug 07 2012

Three Strong Women is tormenting. Its characters are tormented, their lives are tormented, and some of the writing linguistically torments readers...is good, bad, and indifferent, as are Norah, Fanta, and Khady, its three antagonists.

Read Full Review of Three Strong Women | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Reader Rating for Three Strong Women
54%

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