This is the first critical study in English to focus exclusively on the work of Marie NDiaye, born in central France in 1967, winner of the Prix Femina (2001), the Prix Goncourt (2009), shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize (2013), and widely considered to be one of the most important French authors of her generation. Andrew Asibong argues that at the heart of NDiaye’s world lurks an indefinable ‘blankness’ which makes it impossible for the reader to decode narrative at the level of psychology or event. NDiaye’s texts explore social stigmata and familial disintegration with a violence unmatched by any of her contemporaries, but in doing so they remain as strangely affectless and ‘unrecognizable’ as their dissociated protagonists. Considering each of NDiaye’s works in chronological order (including her novels, theatre, short fiction and writing for children), Asibong assesses the aesthetic, emotional and political stakes of NDiaye’s portraits of impenetrable selfhood. His book provides an original and provocative framework within which to read NDiaye as a simultaneously hybrid and hyper-French cultural figure, fascinating and fantastical practitioner of the postmodern – and reluctantly postcolonial – ‘blank arts’. An Open Access edition of this work is available on the OAPEN Library.
The first full length book on Marie NDiaye, one of the brightest stars of contemporary French literature NDiaye published her first book at 18 and has won the Prix Goncourt, Prix Femina and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2013 The New York Times wrote of NDiaye, “a hypnotic storyteller with an unflinching understanding of the rock-bottom reality of most people’s lives.”
Andrew Asibong’s 'Marie NDiaye: Blankness and Recognition' is the authoritative study of one of France’s most intriguing and pioneering contemporary authors, indeed of an author whose work compels us at every turn to rethink the ways in which identity, literature, and nationality have heretofore been conceptualized.
Dominic Thomas, UCLA
A highly intelligent and distinguished book that will be seen as a milestone in the well-deserved critical recognition of a major writer.
Andrew Asibong’s erudite and spirited book will be a landmark in studies of Marie NDiaye’s writing. Asibong writes with verve, and with an involvement which is contagious. His book is the product of a fervent personal engagement with the unnerving cruelty of NDiaye’s vision. He is courageous enough to let this surface in ways which serve only to strengthen the value of his study and the pleasure to be derived from it. It seems fitting that the first extended monograph on this major writer should offer such a sharply responsive account of her work, and that its own winning obsessiveness should match that of its subject.
Shirley Jordan, Modern Language Review
Marie Ndiaye: Blankness and Recognition is a beautifully written book, obviously inspired, with analysis which makes you want to read all of the work of Ndiaye.
Lydie Moudileno, French Review