5 November 2016

Marie NDiaye: En famille (1991)

One of the vital things about serious fiction (which I won't bend over backwards to define) is that it so frequently reveals the psychology of the Other: no matter how much or how little an author may sometimes try to conceal it. En famille is not an easy book to understand, not an easy book to read, which doesn't in any way at all make it any less fascinating to read. Or re-read, which I shall definitely do.

François Nourissier saw that En famille (NDiaye's fourth novel, published when she was only twenty-four) is of great interest and importance. Part of his review is published on the back cover of the paperback edition, which (according to my translation) begins 'What sin has Fanny committed? Of what is she guilty in being rejected in such a way by her own people who don't seem to see her as theirs? Furthermore, is she really called Fanny? What do people have against her for being twenty years old?' And so on.

What Marie NDiaye is doing here is something similar to Kafka, showing us alienation in its raw state, the exclusion of an individual for no obvious reason. To pin down the purpose of the exclusion, to trumpet a particular cause, in a word to define, is to reduce, as I'm sure NDiaye would agree. In fact definition is a kind of exclusion in itself, so I'll say no more, and simply look forward to picking this book up again when I'm ready.

Links to my other Marie NDiaye posts:

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Marie NDiaye: La Sorcière
Marie NDiaye: Rosie Carpe
Marie NDiaye: Autoportrait en vert
Marie NDiaye: Ladivine
Marie NDiaye: Trois femmes puissantes
Marie NDiaye: La Femme changée en bûche
Marie NDiaye: Mon cœur à l'étroit
Marie NDiaye: Papa doit manger
Marie NDiaye: Un temps de saison

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