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Translated by Jordan Stump

Published by Maclehose Press

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 if it is to be embraced. 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 bewildering, beguiling story of secrets, lies, guilt and forgiveness by one of Europe's most unique literary voices.

Marie NDiaye was born in France in 1967. She published her first novel at 17, and has won the Prix Femina for Rosie Carpe in 2001 and the Prix Goncourt for Three Strong Women in 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. She was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013.

Jordan Stump has translated many authors from French including Marie Redonnet, Eric Chevillard, and Honoré de Balzac. His translation of Jardin des Plantes by Claude Simon won the 2001 French-American Foundation translation prize, and he was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Artes et des Lettres in 2006.


About the author

Marie NDiaye

Marie NDiaye, born on June 4th 1967, is a French novelist and playwright. Her father, who was Senegalese, returned to Africa when she was a baby, and she was raised by her French mother, a secondary-school science teacher, in a town called Pithiviers, south of Paris.

She began writing at the age of 12. Her first novel, Quant au Riche Avenir (Regarding the Rich Future) was published when she was 18 by Jérôme Lindon, who had been Samuel Beckett’s great champion. Rosie Carpe (2001) won the Prix Femina, and Papa Doit Manger (Daddy’s Got To Eat), a play she wrote ten years ago, was only the second play by a woman to be taken into the repertoire of the Comédie Française.

Her most recent novel, translated into English as Three Strong Women and published in the summer of 2012, won France’s most respected literary prize, the Prix Goncourt in 2009. Fernanda Eberstadt in the New York Times described it as “the poised creation of a novelist unafraid to explore the extremes of human suffering”, and said that NDiaye is “a hypnotic storyteller with an unflinching understanding of the rock-bottom reality of most people’s lives.”