Ladivine by Marie NDiaye (Man Booker International Prize Long List)


There’s this quote:

“She knew, like her mother, that the wrong was there all around them, in the simple fact that Malinka was visiting her mother in secret because she’s decided this was how it would be, and because once that scandalous decision was made there was no going back.”

and this one:

“You don’t have to love your parents, right, if they don’t deserve it?” he blurted out, with an emotion so ill contained that she realized he was revealing a sentiment as difficult to feel as it was to express, and so offering her his absolute trust at its most tender and troubles, his heart laid bare in the cup of his outstretched, trembling hand.

“Of course you don’t,” she said with conviction.

But, she thought, her throat tightening, suppose your mother more than deserves your love and you don’t let her have it, suppose you keep it all to yourself, what to think of a person like that? If you’re ashamed of your mother and keep her as far out of your life as you can, what kind of person are you then?”

giving us just an indication of the way Ladivine looks at parent-child relationships. There are many issues within its pages, about relationships and race, finding one’s place in life.

Ladivine was on the Man Booker International Prize long list, but didn’t make it to the official short list. However, my fellow jury members thought highly enough of it to place it on our Shadow Panel short list. I’m unconvinced of its eligibility to win. For me, other novels in contention for the Man Booker International Prize carry more weight.


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