When pregnant Rosie Carpe, her fatherless five-year-old son in tow, arrives in Guadeloupe looking for her elusive brother, Lazare, the world already seems a plenty confusing place. Could the man who comes to meet her, an elegant black man calling himself Lagrand, actually be her disheveled white brother? Are her parents, who abandoned her in Paris, rediscovering themselves in an outrageous second youth of outlandish affairs, or have they simply lost their minds? And does Rosie have a hope of slipping the sticky grasp of her former employer and seducer, who moonlights as a video pornographer?
If it seems unlikely that the feckless Lazare, missing for five years as he followed his own twisted path, might help, or that carnivalesque Guadeloupe, where murder and mayhem are the natural outcomes of "business ventures," might be the place for Rosie to find peace, then Marie NDiaye may have a few surprises in store for her reader. Amid the blurring boundaries and shifting values, the indistinct realities and confusing certainties of Rosie Carpe, a love story unfolds, and all that is ambiguous and tenuous-in short, all of Rosie's world-is underpinned with a measure of tenderness.
Marie NDiaye, winner of the Prix Goncourt in 2009, is the author of seven novels and lives in France. Her novel Rosie Carpe was published in France where it won the Prix Femina in 2001. Tamsin Black is a freelance translator and most recently translated Sylvie Matton's Rembrandt's Whore.