Author : Ananda Devi
Translator : Jeffrey Zuckerman
Publisher : Speaking tiger Books
Genre : Literary Fiction
Source : Publisher
Rating : 5 stars
What can you say about a book that moves you so much that anything you read after it seems like stale bread? I suppose I will just have to do my best. Ananda Devi is described as the figurehead of Mauritian literature. And this book was awarded the Prix des cinq continents as the best book written in French outside of France. Now I didn’t read it in French, my course wasn’t even remotely successful. I read it in English with the translation done by Jeffrey Zuckerman an even in translation it moves you so much that you can’t quite wrap your head around the words. But you do want to wrap the words around you.
The story follows Eve, Savita, Saadiq, Clélio and an unnamed narrator at times as they weave through the maze that is life in Mauritius’ not so affluent district, Troumaron. Eve,only seventeen, has grown beyond her years and not because she wanted to. She has simply been forced to by life, circumstances and the lack of care by the adults around her. In fact, the same can be said for everyone in the story. Saadiq, a poet by heart and a student by nature is a gang member by night just so he doesn’t seem weak, so he can fit in. Clélio is angry, angry at the world at is family, at his father and at his brother. But instead of doing anything productive about it he leads a gang. Savita, a sweetheart, is eve’s best friend and is everything to her despite the fact that her family acts like they ought not to be there.
Eve goes through hell having prostituted herself from the time she knew, without knowing, that she had something she could trade. She pretends to have power over men when in actuality she doesn’t have power over her own fate. She seals her reputation and with that, any chance of her having friends. Savita is the only one who is there for her and together they almost become one. Saadiq is a poet, he spends each day writing about eve and his love for her, making feeble attempts to make her his even though he is tormented by the thought that she belongs to everyone. And Clélio , well he is the turning point in the story. Each of them sealing the other’s fate without knowing their own.
WHAT I LIKED : The writing was so absolutely beautiful. I cannot imagine finding a single fault with anything here. Each word engulfs you and leaves you dazed. You will fall in love with her sentences and keep this book on your shelves, always at the ready not because the story is rereadabe (if you readily reread this you’re probably heartless or tougher than imaginable) but because the writing is worth rereading the heart breaking story for. The author expertly manages to juggle characters and voices to the point where you do not even need to read the title of the chapter to know who you’re reading.
It is a raw unflinching look at the youngsters in an impoverished neighbourhood who start fighting amongst themselves because they know they cannot fight and win against the world. Of course, Saadiq is the only one who truly realises this, so does Savita but we see so little of her that it doesn’t register. The men in the gangs torn on the women and the other women join in with the blame. Where no one is a friend yet everyone considers themselves a closed group, closed to outsiders and anyone who wants to change the dynamics. The author takes the more difficult and raw observations and turns the prose into beautiful poetry.
“Men’s hands take hold of you before having even touched you. Once their thoughts turn to you they’ve already possessed you. Saying no is an insult, because you’d be taking away what they’ve already laid claim to.”
I cannot really compliment this book enough, I don’t know how to. The midpoint heartbreak will hurt, it will really hurt. And this book won’t make you happy. It is depressing but then that is what it is meant to be. I recommend you take it slow with this one. I read it for the Deweys readathon and I had to take a crying break after just to calm myself down.
WHAT I DIDN”T LIKE : I wished the ending had given me more closure. But then I suppose it was meant to feel the way it did. That’s just my desires, not any fault with the book or the writing.
This book is amazing, and it is not meant to be a plot driven book. So if you’re looking for a fast paced action packed story, this isn’t the one for you. Come here if you feel like reading poetry but not just quite yet.
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, and who has plans to leave but will not go alone; Saadiq, gifted would-be poet, inspired by Rimbaud, in love with Eve; Clélio, 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, and a poignant exploration of the construction of personhood at the margins of society.