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August 20, 2018


Prix Goncourt 2009: Trois femmes puissantes

by N@ncy



NDiaye: She is the daughter of a French mother
and a Senegalese father she barely knows,
and married to a white Frenchman.
She firmly anchors autobiography in her stories.

Motif: NDiaye’s metamorphoses of people into animals (hypothetical)
in Three Strong Women (birds) as a form of escape or bad omens.
Story nr 1: Father: ‘perches’ in hammock and
sleeps in the flamboyant tree in his courtyard.
Story nr 2: bird crashed on windshield of a car twice!…bad omen
Story nr 3: young girl Khady
she tries to escape her circumstances…hoping she can soar away
like the bird “…un oiseau disparaissait au loin.”
…disappearing in the distance.

Story nr 1 – ‘Le mot juste’ was so balanced
every word packed a punch. There were few rambling thoughts
just the facts larded with emotion.
Plot: I loved this story that had a whiff of magic realism!

Story nr 2Run-on sentences, also known as fused sentences, occur
when two or more complete sentences are
squashed together without using proper punctuation.
NDiaye disappointed me with the use of run-on’s ad nauseam.
Plot: I did not like this story at all, “pointe barre!”. The story drags and ends up losing its focus entirely.   Bah. #Confusing. If you feel as I did when reading story nr 2 just…”passez votre chemin”
…just move along to story nr 3!

Story nr 3 – This story is as smooth as silk…lucide, linéaire et lisable:
clear-sighted, with beginning-middle- end and most importantly…readable!


Last thoughts:

  1. I’m glad I got my emotional review on NDiaye’s book on paper
  2. …last night because I must adjust it.
  3. My ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to story 2 was due to my lack of 
  4. French vocabulary.
  5. I was exasperated, exhausted and
  6. …disillusioned.
  7. I felt I’ll never learn French.
  8. That is not the best place to be when writing a review.
  9. The run on sentences confused my overworked brain.
  10. I just could not process the story.
  11. I returned to the part of story 2
  12. …that was my initial ‘breaking bad point’ this morning.
  13. I attempted to  push through the story to the very end.
  14. I needed some strong coffee to help me.


  1. After reading all three stories I see:
  2. Three strong women  – Noah – Fanta – Khady
  3. Three weak men – Noah’s father – Rudy – Lamine
  4. Three  places:
  5. Noah in Senegal returning with difficulty
  6. Fanta in France thinking of Senegal…wishing she never left
  7. Khady in Senegal trying to get out
  8. Note: Senegal is never mentioned but there are markers
  9. in the story that point in that direction:
  10. Reubeuss prison, village Dara Salam,
  11. …arrondissement de Grand Youff, newspaper Le Soleil.


  1. Theme:   The family is the basis in the 3 stories.
  2. The families are in decline and all lack a strong father figure.
  3. This is a clear link to NDiaye’s situation
  4. …when her father abandoned her
  5. …mother and sister to return to Senegal.


  1. Women:  Each one of the heroines is torn between
  2. Senegal and France.
  3. Reading the stories you see them trying
  4. …to find there way between two continents.


  1. Marie NDiaye reveals her skills in three
  2. completely different stories and styles.
  3. Unfortunately I did not like the second story.
  4. I hope to hear from others if
  5. …they also found it ‘rough reading’
  6. …be it in English or French.
  7. Strong point:
  8. I was most impressed by NDiaye’s vocabulary.
  9. She introduced me to so many new words
  10. Reading this book in French is not for the faint-hearted.
  11. It seems I’ve struggled with few of these books in 2018.
  12. My only compensation is
  13. ….I keep learning, and learning more French!
  14. #NeverGiveUp


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 22 2018

    I love your “never give up” motto. I needed to hear that! Keep on reading!


    • Aug 22 2018

      I use a photo and quote by Joseph Conrad on my Classic Club Master List…to inspire me:
      “Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.”
      Bon courage, Cleo!



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