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Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye

Three Strong Women

by Marie NDiaye

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4502735,256 (3.24)59



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English (18)  French (4)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is not an easy read, but it is powerful and memorable. The book is in three sections which are almost independent of each other, which makes it very difficult to assess as a unified whole. All of them talk of journeys between France and Senegal.

I can't resist talking about the final section first. This is an unflinching, powerful and harrowing depiction of a journey undertaken by a poor and ignorant woman who has been rejected by her dead husband's family in Senegal and is trying to reach France. For me this was very moving and the conclusion is devastating.

The first part tells of a French lawyer returning to Senegal to visit her African father, who has summoned her because he thinks she can help her brother who is in prison accused of murdering the young stepmother with whom he has been having an affair.

The second part is the longest, and I struggled a little to maintain interest in it, partly because it is told from the viewpoint of a man who is not a sympathetic narrator because he is full of guilt and self hatred. The strong woman in this part is his wife, who has left a good job as a teacher in Senegal after her husband has been dismissed after a fight with some students triggered when one of them brings up the subject of his father who murdered his business partner. His French mother has found him a job in France, but he is not happy there, and believes that his wife has been sleeping with his boss.

The book is full of startling imagery and symbolism, and NDiaye is a talented writer, but it is a very bleak read. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 3, 2019 |
Subjective rating disclaimer - this is probably a very good book, but I just really, really didn't enjoy reading it.

It's a very "arty" book in all aspects: lots of repetitive phrases, run-on sentences, unreliable (and unpleasant) narrators, hints of magical realism, often very naturalistic. If that's something you enjoy, I would definitely recommend this book.

Tip: if you consider dropping the book because of the narrator in the second story, try skipping to the third instead - I'd say it's better (if more depressing).

( )
  annathecrow | Feb 14, 2019 |
setting France
Uganda — current day
winner of Prix Goncourt
3 Sep Stories —
Part I gives home to hateful father to help brother
many references to birds, wings, packed in tree — flying off
Part II
Rudy — Fanta — Rudy one whole day is his mind, scary, sick — also refers to birds clipped wings, her mother fascinated w/ angels, buzzard follows him he finally runs it over!
Khady is special — crow images
happy to be chosen for marriage — widow — cast out — trying to get to France?
What makes a Strong Woman — $, power or those with a broken wing or burden in life who survive?!

This is the story of three women who say no: Norah, a French-born lawyer who finds herself in Senegal, summoned by her estranged, tyrannical father to save another victim of his paternity; Fanta, who leaves a modest but contented life as a teacher in Dakar to follow her white boyfriend back to France, where his delusional depression and sense of failure poison everything; and Khady, a penniless widow put out by her husband’s family with nothing but the name of a distant cousin (the aforementioned Fanta) who lives in France, a place Khady can scarcely conceive of but toward which she must now take desperate flight.
  christinejoseph | May 16, 2018 |
though i have trouble connecting with ndiaye's stories, i respect the heck out of her writing skills! previously, i read and appreciated All My Friends. i was able to find a bit more of a lyrical or poetic style in AMF. the writing in TSW is so strong and i found TSW conveying a lot of anger and frustration. what i find consistent between the two books is the dark and odd nature of ndiaye's stories. she's a writer who creates visceral reactions in me when i read. it's not always pleasant, but it tells me how effective she is as a storyteller. ndiaye conveys pain and struggle incredibly well, but also offers glimmer of hope. she is not a writer i would recommend for everyone -- but if you go in for challenging reads, seek out diverse perspectives and stories, and don't mind untidy endings, you should definitely give Marie NDiaye a try. ( )
  Booktrovert | Feb 12, 2017 |
This is a very intense, very disturbing book. It is made up of three stories - the first about an emotionally damaged woman who goes to Senegal to visit her estranged father, the second about a disturbed, and possibly psychotic, young Frenchman and his African wife, and the third about a childless widow whose inlaws make arrangments for her to go to France, once they decide they no longer want to care for her. The stories overlap in small ways and there is incredible bird imagery used in each story which also unites them.

I am so puzzled by the title though. None of these women seem particularly strong, unless it's the strength of sheer endurance. Each story seems like a mini-existential crisis - if I were to compare this work to any other suthors, I guess it would be Camus.

I recommend this but it's no picnic. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Trois Femmes puissantes is a fine book, full of NDiaye’s narrative gusto, stylistic virtuosity and command of tone. If it is less wild and strange than some of her earlier work, it is no less bold.
C’est un roman qui parle de la déchéance morale, de la bassesse des hommes envers les femmes, de l’humanité souffrante, mais qui laisse entrevoir, du fond du malheur, une possibilité de rédemption. Un livre puissant.
added by christiguc | editLe Monde, Nicole Volle (Sep 4, 2009)
added by sokotof | editLes Inrockuptibles (Aug 30, 2009)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marie NDiayeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Casassas, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fletcher, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kalscheuer, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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À Laurène, Silvère et Romaric
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Et celui qui l'accueillit ou qui parut comme fortuitement sur le seuil de sa grande maison de béton, dans une intensité de lumière soudain si forte que son corps vêtu de clair paraissait la produire et la répandre lui-même, cet homme qui se tenait là, petit, alourdi, diffusant un éclat blanc comme une ampoule au néon, cet homme surgi au seuil de sa maison démeusurée n'avait plus rien, se dit aussitôt Norah, de sa superbe, de sa stature, de sa jeunesse auparavant si mystérieusement constante qu'elle semblait impérissable.
And the man who was waiting for her at the entrance to the big concrete house - or who happened by chance to be standing in the doorway - was bathed in a light so suddenly intense that his whole body and pale clothing seemed to produce and project it: this short, thick-set man standing there, glowing as brightly as a neon tube, this man who had just emerged from his enormous house displayed no longer, Norah straight away realised, any of the stature, arrogance and youth that was once so mysteriously characteristic of him as to seem everlasting.
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Follows the stories of three women who discover the power of saying no, including a lawyer who must save a victim of her tyrannical father, a Dakar teacher whose happiness is thwarted by a depressed boyfriend, and a penniless widow desperate to escape homelessness.… (more)

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