Eve out of her ruins by Ananda Devi

First published by Les Fugitives and CB editions in September 2016 ISBN 9780993009341 / 120x180 / paperback with flaps / 160 p / RRP: GBP10.99 Order here. With brutal honesty and poetic urgency, Ananda Devi relates the tale of four young Mauritians trapped in their country's endless cycle of fear and violence: Eve, whose body is her only weapon and source of power; Savita, Eve's best friend, the only one who loves Eve without self-interest, who has plans to leave but will not go alone; Saadiq, gifted would-be poet, inspired by Rimbaud, in love with Eve; Clelio, belligerent rebel, waiting without hope for his brother to send for him from France. Eve Out of Her Ruins is a heartbreaking look at the dark corners of the island nation of Mauritius that tourists never see, a poignant exploration of the construction of personhood at the margins of society, and a harrowing account of the violent reality of life in Devi's native country by the figurehead of Mauritian literature.

Eve out of her ruins by Ananda Devi

Mauritian fiction

Original title –  Ève de ses décombres

Translator  – Jeffrey Zuckerman

Source – personnel copy

When the american list for the best translated book came out on the three percent website this year I decide to order a few of the books from this years list , this was one of those books and since I read my last book from Mauritius the last brother  , I had been wanting to read another Ananda Devi won her first prize when she was fifteen she studied at SOAS in London and had her first works published in the late 1970’s and this was her seventh novel and won the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie.

He dragged me off a corner of the playground , behind a huge  Indian almond tree , he pinned me against the tree’s trunk , and he slipped his hand under my t-shirt. I was wearing a red t-shirt, with a soccer player’s name on it . I don’t remember who anymore . His hand stopped at my breasts , slowly moved up and down, just over the small black points. There hardly anything there. I heard other children shouting and playing .They seemed far away.

Eve first encounter distant like her mind and body split that day !

This is a coming of age book about four teens on the cusp of adulthood in the capital city of Mauritius Port louis , we have Eve the main character in this four voice narrative , she is a young girl that has being using her body to get attention of the boys around her and allowing them to abuse her ad in a way her body is damaged but her mind is still there . Then we have Saad as his chapters are called he shes what is happening to Eve , but wants more ,he loves Eve and has like many men his age discovered Poetry for him it is that of the young Rimbaud as he heard him read in Class  . But also is in the gang they still chase women the same . Another Gang member is the other male character in the book Clelio  he is awaiting family return from France and hopes to follow himself at some point to escape the gang and the world of Port Louis  . Eve also gets abuse at home from her father in fact the last voice in this book is her only Solace a fellow female student she seeks companionship and connection with . There is also a very sinister fifth voice weaving the book with a sinister tale.

You think about her again , as you saw her last . It’s because of him that she had this purplish tinge, this rigidity, this absolute stillness. It’s because of him that she contradicts everything she ever was ; a girl who was laughing thoughtful , warm and alive above all , alive . He was her final moment . It was this face = pasty defeated, unaware of the very meaning of the word love – that she saw at the moment she died.

You will not forgive him

THe fifth detached and chilling voice in this novel with its last words who was she !!

This is a story of growing up in the wild part of a city , I was reminded of the German novel tigermilk where the lead female character like Eve start to use their bodies for sex and a sort of instant gratification but also the hollow feeling that Eve has in her life. There is also a sense of pace Zuckerman has caught in the translation this remind  me of another book from its us publisher Deep Vellum . Tram 83 which also feature characters in what like Port louis is a town on the edge of Chaos , where like Cleio most youngsters are looking to escape to France. The uk publisher of this book is Les fugitives a new publisher putting out new female voices in french . A tough book about kids growing up in a harsh world .

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The last brother by Nathacha Appanah

Nathacha is an india born Mauritian writer she currently lives of the coast of Madagascar on a small island ,The last brother is her debut novel and in france won the FNAC fiction prize .she has written 3 other novels also winning prizes for blue bay palace ,see start as a journalist in her native Mauritius before in 98 going to france where she has worked in print media and radio .The last brother is set in the middle of the second world war we join Raj a young boy who has lost his brother distant from his hard-working father ,looking for friends and a way to deal with the loss of his brother meanwhile David arrives with 1500 Jews that have been deported from Palestine in their search for the promised land ,they arrive in Mauritius ,this is where Raj and David meet both have suffer loses and quickly they form a bond and become each others brothers so to speak ,David goes on the run from the prison camp ,where it happens Raj’s father is a guard the two boys escape through the tough swamps and landscape ,David not being in the best of health struggles .The book is a wonderfully poetic book and at just 200m pages long is what I call a weekend book one I read last saturday in a day ,Nathacha has done a great Job highlighting the plight of the people who didn’t make the promised land .

Then David made a very curious gesture .He plunged two fingers into the earth ,the laid them ,all covered in soil against his breast and ,his hand upon his beating heart said ERETZ .My mother began to weeping softly ,because she herself had probably understood that he was speaking of the promised land .

Raj sees how much the promised land means to David .

Told through Raj’s eyes you get a childlike view of the world where he is unconcerned with borders country’s and border ,just in his friend and brother David ,This book is one of the most touching books I ve read .The translation by Geoffrey Strachan is seamless as you’d expect from him .Raj and David will live with me for a long while ,the scenery of Mauritius as well .

I picture that blond child again ,his magnificent long jumping ,his good-natured face silhouetted against the sky and the foliage of the trees ,the red parakeet perched on his golden hair and I tell myself that in a minute I shall recount David’s story to my son ,so that he .too, may remember .

finis

the ending of the book !

If you’re looking for a powerful and thought provoking read instead of a supermarket holiday read I d put this on the top of your list !!!!!! .the book is in hard back FROM MACLEHOSE PRESS

LINKS –

PIECE ABOUT THE CHILDREN ON TRIP TO ERETZ

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