Translated from the French by Jordan Stump
Clarisse Rivière’s life is shaped by a refusal to admit to her husband Richard and to her daughter Ladivine that her mother is a poor black housekeeper. Instead, weighed down by guilt, she pretends to be an orphan, visiting her mother in secret and telling no-one of her real identity as Malinka, daughter of Ladivine Sylla.
In time, her lies turn against her. Richard leaves Clarisse, frustrated by the unbridgeable, indecipherable gulf between them. Clarisse is devastated, but finds solace in a new man, Freddy Moliger, who is let into the secret about her mother, and is even introduced to her.
But Ladivine, her daughter, who is now married herself, cannot shake a bad feeling about her mother’s new lover, convinced that he can bring only chaos and pain into her life. When she is proved right, in the most tragic circumstances, the only comfort the family can turn to requires a leap of faith beyond any they could have imagined.
Centred around three generations of women, whose seemingly cursed lineage is defined by the weight of origins, the pain of alienation and the legacy of shame, Ladivine is a beguiling story of secrets, lies, guilt and forgiveness by one of Europe’s most unique literary voices.
About the author
Marie NDiaye was born in France in 1967. She published her first novel at seventeen, and has won the Prix Femina (Rosie Carpe in 2001) and the Prix Goncourt (Three Strong Women, 2009). Her play Papa Doit Manger has been taken into the repertoire of the Comédie Française. In 2007, after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, NDiaye left France with her family to live in Berlin.
This is a psychological story about the trauma that captures three generations of women from one family, living and suffering under the burden of social, racial and familial origins. The mysterious, sometimes fantastic, and tragic circumstances are presented ingeniously, boldly in a very interesting style.