cover image Three Strong Women

Three Strong Women

Marie NDiaye, trans. from the French by John Fletcher. Knopf, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-59469-3

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. (Aug.)