Ladivine by Marie NDiaye, translated by Jordan Stump [in Library Journal]
Race, class, and identity all loom large in Marie NDiaye’s (Three Strong Women) latest superb title as generations of mothers and daughters attempt to deny and reclaim one another with onerous consequences. The original Ladivine immigrates to France from an unnamed country, cleaning houses to support daughter Malinka. Unlike Ladivine, Malinka passes for white, enabling her to invent a new identity at school and later as Clarisse Rivière, a comfortably middle-class wife and mother of a daughter she names Ladivine.
Clarisse secretly visits her mother every Tuesday, but her precariously fabricated existence implodes when her husband leaves her and she gets involved with a troubled outcast, eventually ending in gruesome violence. Her now-adult daughter Ladivine (the second) must deal with the tragic outcome. NDiaye, a teenaged publishing prodigy with a dozen-plus acclaimed books and plays over the last few decades, undoubtedly deserves wider international recognition.
Verdict: Discovering NDiaye on the page might prove preferable to the audio format. Although serviceable, Tavia Gilbert’s overly youthful voice detracts from NDiaye’s chilling, reflective, and deliberate prose.