cover image All My Friends

All My Friends

Marie NDiaye, trans. from the French by Jordan Stump. Two Lines (PGW, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (140p) ISBN 978-1-931883-23-8

Inhabiting the tense, anxiety-riddled interstices where things fall apart, the five stories in this collection don't follow each other so much as collide like objects in a literary maelstrom, achieving a dizzying terminal velocity. NDiaye, who received France's most prestigious literary prize for Three Powerful Women and may be that nation's most startling new literary voice, brings to life an electrifying rogue's gallery of social outcasts, disgruntled wives, and loony strivers. Among them, an Internet-savvy farmer's wife who gives up her attractive son for some steady income, in "The Boys," as seen through the eyes of another child who craves nothing more than to be sold off himself; a penniless actress attempting to leave her abject, devoted husband, in "Brulard's Day," in a swanky alpine resort town; a collision of two old friend who once shared a passion for a popular singer in a decrepit suburb, in "The Death of Claude Fran%C3%A7ois." Stump's perfectly calibrated translation captures the rich timbre and fearsome bite of NDiaye's chiseled prose. Empathy may not be NDiaye's strong suit%E2%80%94she prefers a kind of lacerating sincerity%E2%80%94but that may be the price to pay for such lucid and affecting stories. (May)