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A black woman for the first time wins France’s top literary honour

Marie NDiaye takes the Prix Goncourt for Three Powerful Women


 

Marie NDiaye, the first woman in a decade to win the 106-year-old Goncourt—worth only $20 itself, but a guaranteed sales generator—said she did not think of her victory “in those terms: ‘black woman’ and ‘Goncourt.’ I find it impossible to see things that way,” she said. “I don’t represent anything or anyone. I have met many French people raised in Africa who are more African than I am.” NDiaye, 42, was born in Pithiviers, France, to a Senegalese father and French mother, and has described her upbringing as happening in a world “that was 100 per cent French.” Her novel, though, weaves together the stories of three women linked by Africa: Norah, who arrives at her father’s home in Africa; Fanta, teaching French in Dakar, who is forced to follow her partner back to a miserable life in France, and Khady Demba, a young, penniless African widow who is trying to join her distant cousin Fanta in France. “It’s a novel which speaks of the moral decay, the baseness of humanity, of suffering humanity, but which suggests, in the depths of misery, the possibility of redemption,” said Le Monde of the novel, hailing NDiaye’s “exceptional virtuosity.”

The Guardian


 
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