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Three Strong Women
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Three Senegalese women rely on their unshakable sense of self when faced with great disappointment in this novel from NDiaye, the first black woman to win France's Prix Goncourt. Three loosely interwoven sections tell stories of women whose struggle for self-preservation has irrevocably wounded them. When French lawyer Norah, summoned to Senegal by her estranged father, arrives, she finds her beloved brother, Sony, in jail for murder and her father grown old. In Part II, Rudy brings Fanta, his Senegalese wife, back to France. Fanta has worked hard to pull herself out of poverty, only to now find herself plunged back in when the wealth Rudy promised never materializes. In Part III, Khady, a young woman who has never heard of Europe, is kicked out by her late husband's family to go live with Fanta in France. But she falls in with a questionable man who persuades her to make the dangerous journey with him. Each woman calls upon great strength to survive amid failure and humiliation, a feat that goes unnoticed by those around them. NDiaye's quiet intelligence is made apparent by the complexity of her characters and her intuitive prose in this subtly beautiful novel." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the acclaimed literary celebrity--the first black woman ever to win the Prix Goncourt--a harrowing and beautiful novel of the travails of West African immigrants in France, giving voice as never before to Europe's most unwanted.
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 contented life as a teacher in Dakar to follow her white French boyfriend back to France, where his depression and dislocation 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) in France (a place she can scarcely conceive). As these three lives intertwine, each woman manages an astonishing feat of self-preservation against the incomprehensibly methodical and relentless humiliation that is the unacknowledged life of those who have made themselves the fastest-growing, and most-reviled, people in Europe. In Marie NDiaye's luminous narration we see with stunning emotional exactitude the progress by which ordinary women discover unimagined reserves of strength.
About the Author
Marie NDiaye was born in Pithiviers, France, in 1967; spent her childhood with her French mother (her father was Senegalese); and studied linguistics at the Sorbonne. She started writing when she was twelve or thirteen years old and was only eighteen when her first work was published. In 2001 she was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina literary prize for her novel Rosie Carpe, and in 2009, she won the Prix Goncourt for Three Strong Women.
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