Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2016
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.
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 beguiling story of secrets, lies, guilt and forgiveness by one of Europe's most unique literary voices.
Translated from the French by Jordan Stump
Marie NDiaye was born in France in 1967. She published her first novel at seventeen, and has won the Prix Femina (Rosie Carpe in 2001) and the Prix Goncourt (Three Strong Women, 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.
A haunting, melancholy and immaculately translated novel, a thing of beauty for ugly times. — Alex Preston, The Observer
A brave, unusual book — Catherine Humble, Times Literary Supplement
A haunting, powerful new voice in French literature, providing an intriguing, beguiling experience for English readers. — Mika Provata-Carlone, Bookanista
Ladivine is a wonder indeed ... like a saga that you never want to end because each page reveals new riches. — Claire Devarrieux, Libération
A sumptuously written novel by a writer at the height of her powers. — Télérama
With its unique phrasing, slow, multi-layered, and each sentence an absolute necessity, Ladivine is a new delight — Didier Jacob, BiblioObs
In this unique book, Marie NDiaye displays tough, brittle lives in majestic style. — Maria Schottenius, Dagens Nyheter
This strangely hypnotic novel exudes anguish and loneliness. Marie NDiaye, writes profoundly disturbing novels in such riveting prose that one cannot look away. — Library Journal
Ladivine is a real jewel... impeccable craftsmanship, refined phrasing that swirls with description, and a bewitching story. All of the author's talents are on display here. — Marianne Payot, Express
Marie NDiaye's new novel is magnificent. A mesmerising dive into the chaos in the lineage of three women. — LaLibreBelgique
A melancholy modern fable ... NDiaye reveals only as much reality as she wants to at any given moment-and therein lies her magic. — Kirkus Review
Sadness, regret, and insidious dread permeate every page of this beautifully crafted, relentless novel. — Publishers Weekly
With this novel, Marie NDiaye proves that she is a majestic storyteller and a deft weaver of literary universes. — Tilman Krause, Die Welt
The real strengths of NDiaye are her ability to plumb the depths of a character's psychology and her cool but uncompromising dissection of their entire nature. — Ulrike Baureithel, Der Freitag
NDiaye's manner of writing has often been compared to Proust ... Here she has created a world of mystery, dreams, and sensuality in a very controlled style. — Adele King, World Literature Today