Coração Apertado
"Leia de uma vez só" (Ronaldo Bressane, Brasil econômico)A escritora Marie NDiaye foi ganhadora do Prêmio Goncourt em 2009, o mais prestigiado das letras francesas, e há onze anos não atribuído a uma mulher. Com uma linguagem e atmosfera que lembram o melhor de Kafka, "Coração Apertado" é um romance perturbador, narrado em primeira pessoa pela protagonista Nadia. Ela e Ange são um casal de professores de escola primária no interior da França, extremamente dedicado a seu ofício. De uma hora para outra, começam a notar que seus vizinhos, alunos, colegas e desconhecidos passam a olhá-los e tratá-los de modo diferente e violento, sem um motivo aparente. Já no início da narrativa, Ange é ferido e seu corpo passa por metamorfoses visíveis – outro acento kafkiano. Com uma escrita sóbria e densa, Marie NDiaye cria um suspense apavorante, com toque de humor ferino e dilacerante, que não se desvia das tensões sociais da França de hoje. Nas palavras de Beatriz Bracher, que assina o texto de orelha da edição, “Coração apertado é surpreendente e terrível até o final”. Parte do texto da orelha:"Coração Apertado" é surpreendente e terríve até o final. Um dia depois de terminar de ler este livro, você será uma pessoa mais feliz do que um dia antes de ter começado a lê-lo e, certamente, mais feliz do que enquanto o estiver lendo. A escritora francesa Marie NDiaye é límpida e elegante, sem qualquer afetação. Nada parece ter sido escrito com o intuito de chocar ou confundir. O medo que pulsa aqui não é feito de frases curtas e cenas chocantes, é construído com frases completas que fluem tranquilas. Deslizamos para dentro de uma cidade cada vez mais amorfa, sem arestas que justifiquem o nosso estranhamento.[...] O pânico e a vergonha de "Coração Apertado" são de uma origem delicada e perversa. Delicada porque você não sabe se já de fato o que temer, ou se o problema está em um desajuste na percepção da realidade. Do que Nadia, a narradora, se envergonha? O fato de sentir-se inocente aumenta seu mal-estar, o motivo das hostilidades pode estar em qualquer parte, no corpo gordo, no amor excessivo, e talvez orgulhoso, à profissão. Por que o marido foi ferido? A farmacêutica não lhe vira o rosto, como os outros, vende as gazes necessárias para limpar a ferida no abdômen do marido, pois acredita que não é assim que as coisas devem ser resolvidas. Assim como?, pergunta Nadia. O que fizeram com ele? Não foi um acidente? Nadia intui que a mulher não sabe o que de fato aconteceu. E quem sabe?Pervesa porque, sendo informe, transforma os mecanismos de defesa em células de ataque, os motivos para censurar e punir vão sendo construídos por seu próprio medo, por sua vergonha ancestral. E não sabemos mais em que conversa estamos sendo embalados, na de uma vítima que não entende nada, ou na de um pequeno monstro cada dia mais perigoso por causa do cerco que se fecha ao seu redor.[...] "Coração Apertado" tem lances fantásticos e é profundamente realista. Este ambiente duplo, que não tem nada de ambíguo, vem da sobriedade original e densa da escrita de Maria NDiaye. É uma escrita sem brincadeiras ou firulas, não há trilha sonora banal, o suspense, que existe, e a fantasia apavorante são perfeitamente reais, limpas e muitas vezes engraçadas, de um humor felino e dilacerante."(Beatriz Bracher)TRADUÇÃO: PAULO NEVES

Coração Apertado Details

TitleCoração Apertado
Author
LanguagePortuguese
ReleaseMay 12th, 2019
PublisherCosac Naify
Rating
GenreFiction, Cultural, France, Horror

Coração Apertado Review

  • Jaidee
    January 1, 1970
    5 "surreal, terrifying, provocative" stars !!! In 2016 I read Ms. NDiaye's 2009 Prix Goncourt Award winning novel Three Strong Women and it became my Silver Award winner that year. That novel continues to haunt me and I needed to read more by this extremely intelligent, empathic and superb author. I chose this book published in 2007 but only translated into English in 2017. I really did not know what I was getting into when I started this. This novel took over my inner life and I had to put my 5 "surreal, terrifying, provocative" stars !!! In 2016 I read Ms. NDiaye's 2009 Prix Goncourt Award winning novel Three Strong Women and it became my Silver Award winner that year. That novel continues to haunt me and I needed to read more by this extremely intelligent, empathic and superb author. I chose this book published in 2007 but only translated into English in 2017. I really did not know what I was getting into when I started this. This novel took over my inner life and I had to put my other books aside once I entered this frightening surreal universe. This book made me think, caused great waves of existential anxiety and layers of revulsion that I bravely needed to unpeel in order to both benefit and grow. Nadia is middle aged, a school teacher, on her second marriage, upper middle class in the city of Bordeaux France. Initially we know very little about her, what is her race, her ethnicity, her upbringing, her personal story. What we do know is that she is hugely disliked by the community, her family and her friends. The city seems to turn against her at every corner, people are either disgusted, afraid or angry at her. Her husband is wounded and starts to wither away. A much reviled neighbour begins to care for him and dominate her. His name is Noget but is he perhaps Godot. She grows fatter and fatter and wants to escape to her estranged son's island home but how to get there when the whole city conspires against her. Is she delusional, paranoid or of sound mind ? Throughout the novel we find out more about Nadia and we, as readers, grow to dislike her, some of us may begin to despise her. She is racist, sexist, classist, then we find out how she has hurt those that have loved through her cruel and sometimes abusive ways. Nadia is certainly guilty of much but is she criminal? What more does she hide ? What is growing inside of her? Who are the strange characters that she collides with? Is there any chance of redemption for her? Nadia will inhabit my being for quite some time and through her minor atrocities keeps me in check and I endeavor to not fall into any of her upper middle class monstrosities ! Ms. Ndiaye you astound me with your dark genius !
    more
  • Paul Fulcher
    January 1, 1970
    Now and then, at first, I think I catch people scowling in my direction. They can’t really mean me, can they? Marie NDiaye's Ladivine was a real discovery for me from the 2016 Man Booker International, and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award, so I was delighted that my Two Lines Press subscription included another NDiaye novel, Heart Hemmed In (published earlier in the original). The good news is that it is perhaps even stronger than Ladivine and I would be disappointed Now and then, at first, I think I catch people scowling in my direction. They can’t really mean me, can they? Marie NDiaye's Ladivine was a real discovery for me from the 2016 Man Booker International, and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award, so I was delighted that my Two Lines Press subscription included another NDiaye novel, Heart Hemmed In (published earlier in the original). The good news is that it is perhaps even stronger than Ladivine and I would be disappointed if it doesn't feature in the award season next year.The translation, as with Ladivine, is by the excellent Jordan Stump, and this interview (https://catranslation.org/blog-post/i...) was very helpful in understanding the book.Nadia and her husband Ange are teachers in Bordeaux, and are, they believe, well regarded by pupils and parents alike. But one day Nadia notices a change in the way people are treating them (as per the quote above), which Ange also senses, but is reluctant to discuss. The disdain gradually escalates to open hostility and culminates with Ange one day being gravely wounded at school (albeit exactly what happened is never explicit).Nadia remains bemused as to what exactly they (or perhaps only her?) have done wrong, We're convinced of our innocence, but ashamed all the same.Her confusion is not helped by the fact that others, even those less hostile, seem to regard it as too self-evident to require explanation. Her pharmacist tells her: That's what you must understand, oh please won't you understand, that ... there's nothing special about you and your husband. It's not you, not exactly you that this ugliness is attacking, and besides, who around here even knows you? Apart from a few people, who, like me ... But no, it's not you, it's ... how can I put it ... the untouchability of what you are, your ... your stiffness, your purity, your manner, your habits, oh, how can I put it.""We're exactly like you," I say."So you think," she says, "but, oh God, you don't understand, and I don't know how to ... you're so different, so profoundly ... excessive." Although as even Ange points out to Nadia, she may simply not be seeing what is obvious:The trouble with you is you only know what you want to know.As we discover more of Ange and Nadia’s life we see that they do indeed set themselves apart. Nadia herself calls it – in a wonderful phrase: arrogant conjugal seclusion. They look in contempt, in a Bernhardian fashion people who e.g. watch TV, drive large cars, have dogs, hunt (There's no breed more despicable than hunters. Every hunter in this country should be executed, Ange used to say.). They themselves don’t watch TV, and only listen to classical music or jazz on the radio: several people point out this may account for their ignorance of what is happening around and to them.They looked down on a retired teacher living in their block, who turns out to be their only supporter when these events occur, but also proves to be a renowned author, Richard Victor Noget, writing on the subject of education, even a TV personality: their ignorance of his identity again being used as others of evidence of their difference.And despite being well-off, they are very careful with their money, on shopping trips their greatest pleasure comes from not consummating purchases: the "euphoria ... of walking out of a shop with empty hands and full pockets."Ange and Nadia have no lasting friendships, but Nadia in particular has broken off relationships with her family (not having spoken to them for over 30 years) and with her less successful first husband: we learn that unlike Ange, who is from traditional Bordeaux stock, she comes from a poorer area around the city and admits to the cold hatred I felt for the environment I'd pulled myself out of, which extends to having misled Ange that her parents are dead.Nadia has a son from her first marriage, but when he has a child she avoids meeting her granddaughter or his wife, worried about her appearance and the risk that her son had perpetuated the indignity of our bloodline, an obsession heightened when she first hears the name the child has been given: that choice of name, "Souhar", which I can't think about without feeling a pain like a kick to the stomach, which is to say a humiliating, undeserved pain, as well as a violent one." The novel, as with Ladivine, takes a hallucinatory twist. Noget’s support involves feeding them such gourmet food that Nadia worries he is fattening them up to some sinister end: only for it to appear that her increasing weight might actually be due to a rather disturbing pregnancy. She eventually visits her son, only to find that his wife has mysteriously disappeared to be replaced by another creepily controlling woman who closely monitors his every move, and that he doesn’t want to discuss where his baby daughter now lives.And she finds that even the physical city itself seems to have turned on her, as she finds herself getting lost in seeming permanent fog, with streets that carry on for ever and places no longer where she remembers, despite having lived in the city for decades.And my heart is cornered, surrounded by the baying pack, and it’s hammering on the wall of my chest, wishing it could break out of its cramped cage, my poor aging heart, my poor trembling heart. I was born right here in Bordeaux, in Les Aubiers neighbourhood; I’ve spent my whole life in this city, and I love it with a fraternal tenderness, like a human soul mate. But now I find Bordeaux slipping away from me, enigmatically shunning my friendship, its streets seemingly changing their look and direction (is it only the fog? I ask myself), its citizens grown hostile over the past few months (and I’d gotten used to that and it had, over time, become bearable), seeming no longer to hate me exactly, but to be stalking me. Although from these rather disturbing developments, NDiaye actually brings the novel to a surprisingly ‘happy’ conclusion.One of the novel’s most striking features is that the question of exactly why people are hostile to Nadia and Ange is never resolved and left to the reader's views. An obvious interpretation is ethnicity and racial prejudice, but that is never stayed explicitly. And the novel also hints that Nadia may be being metaphorically punished for her own failings, in particular her own shunning of others (her parents & siblings, a hometown friend, her ex-husband, her son's ex-lover, granddaughter and other outside her family, Noget - all of whom converge at the novel's end) and, in particular, not for her ethnicity but rather for her denial of her own origins. A crucial moment comes when she realises that those like her and Ange shunned by society are like us not so much physically as in the depths of their self-centered souls.Highly recommended.
    more
  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Harrowing and claustrophobic initially but always compelling, My Heart Hemmed In is Marie NDiaye at her brilliant best. This is her newest published work in English (just released) but was published in France in 2007 while Ladivine came out in English just last year but was published in France in 2013. The two novels make fascinating companion pieces, treating the same theme (denial of one's roots, race, class--one's self--and all that this entails) in equally compelling ways. My Heart Hemmed in Harrowing and claustrophobic initially but always compelling, My Heart Hemmed In is Marie NDiaye at her brilliant best. This is her newest published work in English (just released) but was published in France in 2007 while Ladivine came out in English just last year but was published in France in 2013. The two novels make fascinating companion pieces, treating the same theme (denial of one's roots, race, class--one's self--and all that this entails) in equally compelling ways. My Heart Hemmed in is the more allegorical, fabulistic of the two and is more concentrated than the discursive Ladivine but both have that element, and I love how animals--dogs in particular--figure in.To my mind NDiaye is one of the most interesting novelists working today. A consummate prose stylist (one has to also credit her translators; Jordan Stump is the most recent of these)--I will read anything that she writes. Other works of hers not to miss: Three Strong Women (3 novellas); Self-Portrait in Green (autobiography); Rosie Carpe (novel); All My Friends (short fiction).
    more
  • Maria
    January 1, 1970
    This book makes me want to be a better person. Or else.
  • Joseph Schreiber
    January 1, 1970
    I've only read Ndiaye's short fiction before. The narrative voice—tightly controlled, proud, paranoid and delusional—carries this tale of a middle-aged couple suddenly struck by unexplained, frightening circumstances. Dark, surreal and disturbing. For my full review see: https://roughghosts.com/2017/07/12/pr...
    more
  • Nathanimal
    January 1, 1970
    Nadia and her second husband, Ange, are elementary school teachers. They are neatly appointed people in a neatly appointed flat in a neatly appointed provincial town. So far they’ve been able to harness this community’s narrow-minded social forces to build a smug little life for themselves. But now something has happened. Suddenly those tacit social forces have turned against them. Without doing anything at all to provoke it, Nadia and her husband have become objects of contempt and loathing.Not Nadia and her second husband, Ange, are elementary school teachers. They are neatly appointed people in a neatly appointed flat in a neatly appointed provincial town. So far they’ve been able to harness this community’s narrow-minded social forces to build a smug little life for themselves. But now something has happened. Suddenly those tacit social forces have turned against them. Without doing anything at all to provoke it, Nadia and her husband have become objects of contempt and loathing.Nothing to provoke it, Nadia? Are you so sure? No, she’s not sure at all. Out of nowhere Ange develops this terrible, suppurating wound beneath his button-down shirt that seems to suggest something’s been festering beneath the surface of their life all along. All their neatly appointed neighbor-friends have abandoned them and the one neighbor they always despised and felt so superior to, who looks like a hobo—Noget—insinuates himself into their marriage and their flat, to care for Ange and force his rich home-cooked food on Nadia. Soon the buttons are popping off her cardigan. Or maybe he’s somehow impregnated her. Or maybe it’s menopause. Oh, she doesn’t want to know. But she will know. An odious truth is coming for her.I prefer exaggeration to flat-out fabulism. Jung identifies disproportion as a sure sign that you’re in the presence of the unconscious: disproportionate affects, exaggerated impulses, intentions that go to far. A nameless anxiety can press a person into a very odd shape. It can do the same to a book. Here, the protagonist doesn’t know what she herself is up to from one scene to the next; the other characters have become grotesque in their persecution of her; and even the setting has come alive with streetcars that pounce at her and paths that give her the brush-off. The whole world is pregnant with the portent of nothing good.This was my second time reading this amazing thumbscrew of a book. You’ve heard of 50- or 100-year floods? This, for me, is a 10-year book. I started to wonder if I’d ever find a book to fill me up the way so many books did when I was a younger, hungrier reader. Well (burp) let me loosen my belt a little.
    more
  • Book Riot Community
    January 1, 1970
    There’s no point in trying to summarize a Marie NDiaye book, whether we’re talking about the short story collections of the novels. There’s always layers of meaning and plot that initially seem disconnected but which come together at the end in ways both interesting and surprising. My Heart Hemmed In is superficially about a middle-aged French woman forced into revisiting her past after her husband is attacked. But it’s also about race, class, society and navigating Western culture as an immigra There’s no point in trying to summarize a Marie NDiaye book, whether we’re talking about the short story collections of the novels. There’s always layers of meaning and plot that initially seem disconnected but which come together at the end in ways both interesting and surprising. My Heart Hemmed In is superficially about a middle-aged French woman forced into revisiting her past after her husband is attacked. But it’s also about race, class, society and navigating Western culture as an immigrant and person of color. It’s about choices and mistakes and realizing what is important. NDiaye’s style of storytelling reminds me of authors like Kazuo Ishiguro and Simenon and Wolfgang Hilbig – challenging “literary” writers who don’t necessarily make it easy for their readers but are rewarding nonetheless. — Tara Cheesmanfrom The Best Books We Read In June 2017: https://bookriot.com/2017/07/03/riot-...
    more
  • Brooke Salaz
    January 1, 1970
    Felt like the first half really drew me in and then I lost some of that compelling feeling toward the end as Ndiaye seemed to be making a more visible effort to wrap things up in a way that made a bit of sense. I preferred the early stages of the nightmare where this seemingly utterly blameless and virtuous couple suddenly find both their human and physical surroundings turn inexplicably hostile. Reminded me in a more sinister way of Ishiguro’s the Unconsoled which is one of my all time favorite Felt like the first half really drew me in and then I lost some of that compelling feeling toward the end as Ndiaye seemed to be making a more visible effort to wrap things up in a way that made a bit of sense. I preferred the early stages of the nightmare where this seemingly utterly blameless and virtuous couple suddenly find both their human and physical surroundings turn inexplicably hostile. Reminded me in a more sinister way of Ishiguro’s the Unconsoled which is one of my all time favorite books. Then it got into sort of Rosemary’s Baby territory and I lost a bit of my enthusiasm. But Ndiaye is fantastic at creating an eery atmosphere where her characters have lost control of sinister, malignant forces in league against them. The utterly abhorrent character of writer/pedagogue of some fame, Noget, who the main character Nadia has never heard of and her ignorance where everyone else is in awe of his renown because she doesn’t watch tv is morbidly funny. Her lack of respect and deference toward him seems to be somehow worthy of the worst punishment and torment with his creepy constant presence. It’s like Harry Dean Stanton deciding to move in and throw parties at your house because you didn’t recognize him. Hilarious and horrifying.
    more
  • Ana Negreiros
    January 1, 1970
    Damn, Nadia.What. A. Trip.I had to come back and change my rating from 4 to 5 stars because the more I think about this book, the more I realize how downright amazing it really is.
  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    Bonne nouvelle pour les détracteurs de NDiaye : ici, pas de phrases à rallonge, pas d'excès de jolis mots désuets. Tout est claire, net, et sans fioritures de style. Ca, c'est pour la forme ; côté fond, soyez prêts à rester dans le brouillard (tout comme Nadia, l'héroïne de l'histoire) pour au moins les trois quarts du roman ! On évolue comme dans le labyrinthe illogique d'un mauvais rêve ; on ne sait point où l'on va, les passages sont sombres, et les sorties se mutent en impasses. Ce n'est pas Bonne nouvelle pour les détracteurs de NDiaye : ici, pas de phrases à rallonge, pas d'excès de jolis mots désuets. Tout est claire, net, et sans fioritures de style. Ca, c'est pour la forme ; côté fond, soyez prêts à rester dans le brouillard (tout comme Nadia, l'héroïne de l'histoire) pour au moins les trois quarts du roman ! On évolue comme dans le labyrinthe illogique d'un mauvais rêve ; on ne sait point où l'on va, les passages sont sombres, et les sorties se mutent en impasses. Ce n'est pas tout à fait un cauchemar, il y a sur le chemin quelques vagues clairières, pour ne pas dire des oasis. Comme Nadia, on est poussé par la curiosité (un peu morbide, certes) plutôt que par la terreur. On a envie que ça se dévoile, quitte à découvrir une réalité laide. Quelques passages : Je m'accroupis près du lit. Je commence à découper la chemise d'Ange tout autour de la plaie. J'entends mon propre souffle, accéléré, difficile. Malgré le mouchoir, l'odeur infecte me donne le vertige. Je trempe une compresse dans le désinfectant puis j'essaie d'éponger le pus abondant qui a débordé sur le ventre d'Ange, sous son pantalon, qui a trempé le matelas et les draps. J'ai l'impression que ce que j'enlève se trouve aussitôt renouvelé, jaillissant lentement du fond de la plaie.Je fouette l'air de mes deux mains. Une sueur particulièrement acide, odorante, coule sur mes tempes, bien que l'air soit frais dans le bureau de poste, et je remarque que Noget et le guichetier me dévisagent avec un air de prudente hésitation. Le tram glisse près de moi dans une stridulation moqueuse. Les trois visages de mes semblables, tous groupés au fond de la rame comme les fleurs d'un bouquet tragique, d'une gerbe triste et sombre vouée au piétinement, ces trois visages me regardent avec une expression de désolation, de pitié – pauvre femme, contrainte de marcher, et si grosse, si empêtrée, toute rouge de froid et de fatigue !Suintements en tous genres et corpulence honteuse – ça me va ! Et c'est juste un petit échantillon ; il y a bien d'autres images qui s'alignent comme tant de tableaux (viandeux) de F. Bacon, ou de prises de vue des films, (disons, par exemple, Eraserhead ) de D. Lynch. Pas pour tout le monde, mais une lecture singulière et assez fascinante.
    more
  • Keven Girard
    January 1, 1970
    Puissant, dérangeant, portant à réflexion sur les jugements et le regard des autres, heureux mélange d'étrangeté et de douce poésie.
  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Readers who follow my reviews know that I don't mind wandering lost for a while in a novel. This is the third novel I've read by French author Marie NDiaye. She never fails to challenge me while drawing me in to her world of people who are themselves challenged by race, origin or social status in a European setting where they don't fit.Nadia and Ange are dedicated school teachers who have risen from humble beginnings to a tenuous French middle-class life in Bordeaux. They are childless and cons Readers who follow my reviews know that I don't mind wandering lost for a while in a novel. This is the third novel I've read by French author Marie NDiaye. She never fails to challenge me while drawing me in to her world of people who are themselves challenged by race, origin or social status in a European setting where they don't fit.Nadia and Ange are dedicated school teachers who have risen from humble beginnings to a tenuous French middle-class life in Bordeaux. They are childless and consider themselves better than their fellow teachers. A growing awareness that they are despised in their community culminates in a physical attack on Ange.While Ange refuses any medical care, malingering near death in his bed, Nadia fights for her identity. She roams the city, trying to understand how they have fallen so short of what they desired.Through allegorical haunting and psychological suffering, Nadia revisits her first husband, the estranged son of that marriage, and finally the parents she rejected long ago. Eventually she gains clarity.One of the things I recognize in NDiaye's novels is that the lives of lower-class immigrants in France are only a parallel of the immigrant experience in America. Often these are people who come from countries once colonized by the French. Like any immigrant they come to France seeking a better life but must suffer from a loss of family and traditions, amounting to a loss of identity. Her writing is powerful, rich and disturbing. She paints the confusion and displacement of her characters in the tones of nightmare with echos of their origins. Whenever I read her, I am made aware of the suffering we all experience as human beings trying to achieve connection in a world where differences are often stronger than similarities.Marie NDiaye is the daughter of a French mother and a Senegalese father, raised near Paris. She published her first novel at seventeen. She won the Prix Goncourt in 2009 for her third novel, Three Strong Women, which I have read. That novel landed her on the Man Booker International Prize 2016 finalists list. Her 2013 novel, Ladivine has also been translated into English and is perhaps my favorite of the three I have read.
    more
  • Huy
    January 1, 1970
    Cuốn sách thứ 3 của Marie NDiaye mà mình đọc và vẫn rất thích cách viết của bà, đây là một cuốn sách rất đặc biệt bởi từ đầu đến cuối câu chuyện được bao phủ trong một màn sương mù mờ mịt mà đến tận cuối tôi cũng không biết chắc sự thật là gì và điều gì đã xảy ra, cách viết hấp dẫn, giàu kịch tính mà vẫn mơ màng khiến ta đắm chìm trong một nỗi bất an kỳ lạ đến những dòng chữ cuối cùng.
    more
  • kasia
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating, but also punishing. NDiaye is amazing at creating an atmosphere of intense anxiety and shame. My Heart Hemmed In tackles a lot of the same things as Ladivine, but in a much more opaque and surreal way. Imagine Kafka's Trial, redone by a female Michael Haneke -- it's sort of like that.
    more
  • jeremy
    January 1, 1970
    we're convinced of our innocence, but ashamed all the same. perhaps even more haunting and unsettling than her previous novel, the mesmerizing ladivine , marie ndiaye's my heart hemmed in (mon cœur à l'étroit) is the arresting, distressing tale of nadia, her husband, and two lives unwinding out of control. the french/senegalese writer crafts a paranoid, perturbing milieu that infuses every sentence of her story with an inescapable, yet ill-defined foreboding. with my heart hemmed in, the prix we're convinced of our innocence, but ashamed all the same. perhaps even more haunting and unsettling than her previous novel, the mesmerizing ladivine , marie ndiaye's my heart hemmed in (mon cœur à l'étroit) is the arresting, distressing tale of nadia, her husband, and two lives unwinding out of control. the french/senegalese writer crafts a paranoid, perturbing milieu that infuses every sentence of her story with an inescapable, yet ill-defined foreboding. with my heart hemmed in, the prix goncourt winner further establishes her well-deserved reputation as an innovative, extraordinary talent. her prose, her characters, her pacing, her psychological intuition, everything about an ndiaye novel delights (if not disturbs). what more could it possibly take for stateside audiences to recognize the breadth and brilliance of this gifted writer?! we finish our meal in silence, each aware of the fear gnawing at the other but neither daring to speak of it openly, because we're both used to peace and serenity, an untroubled understanding of everything around us, and so, in a way, our own fear offends us, like something unseemly and out of place. *translated from the french by jordan stump (modiano, chevillard, volodine, de balzac, simon, toussaint, et al.)**4.5 stars
    more
  • Princess
    January 1, 1970
    What an utterly bewildering book! It opens when a couple in their 50s, living in Bordeaux, wakes one day to find that everybody in their city - friend, acquaintance, or stranger on the street - despises them. And the one person who does not is a neighbor they have openly disdained in the past. Then things escalate appallingly quickly. The husband is viciously attacked at work (the two teach at the same school). Later, two characters attempt to explain to Nadia (the wife) why she and her husband What an utterly bewildering book! It opens when a couple in their 50s, living in Bordeaux, wakes one day to find that everybody in their city - friend, acquaintance, or stranger on the street - despises them. And the one person who does not is a neighbor they have openly disdained in the past. Then things escalate appallingly quickly. The husband is viciously attacked at work (the two teach at the same school). Later, two characters attempt to explain to Nadia (the wife) why she and her husband are the targets of such...virulent hate. But Nadia does not like to confront terrible things; she'd really rather not know. She's almost like a child, covering her ears because she will not hear. And so the reader must trundle alongside Nadia, perplexed, as even stranger, unexplained things happen: Nadia's husband rots away from the wound, refusing professional care; he insists that he is meant to suffer, that it is all a part of his atonement; the children at Nadia's school pin pieces of her husband's gouged flesh onto her coat when she returns to her classroom the day after the incident; the dreaded neighbor practically moves in on the pretext of helping Nadia's husband; and although the neighbor is unpleasant to look at (and maybe not even too clean), he cooks astounding meals; within days, Nadia gains an absurd amount of weight; finally, though she has lived in Bordeaux for most of her life, Nadia begins to get lost when she ventures outside of her apartment by herself; soon she believes that the city itself is also conspiring against her.So convincing is Nadia's sense of all-pervading paranoia, that impending sense of "something bad soon comes," that some of it leaked out of the book and into me, so that I was increasingly anxious as I turned the pages. WHY did everybody hate Nadia and her husband? Was the entire novel an allegory? If yes, what of? What was I meant to understand about the human condition? And ARGH, what if I got to the end of the book and still all meaning escaped me?!Thankfully, some things did become clear by the end: shame can weigh on us, and become a physical thing that others perceive, until we confront it. Until we can face our faults head on, and come to terms with who we are, any shame we harbor will fester and become a living thing that will devour us from the inside out. This book will stay with me for a long time. I might continue to dip into it for a few weeks because I am certain that I missed some insights when I was particularly absorbed in one unexpected turn of events, or another.
    more
  • Kathryn Jacoby
    January 1, 1970
    “... I feel like the only one around here who hasn’t figured out what it is that’s so terribly momentous! Oh, but I’m not going to spend all my time begging forgiveness for everything I’m evidently somehow doing wrong.” Like the protagonist, I just want to know what all this means, but the book revels in its murkiness and taunts. I’m abandoning this at 40%, just under 100 pages in. My heart hemmed in, my eyes glazed over, my threshold for tedium exceeded long, long ago ... “What are you trying “... I feel like the only one around here who hasn’t figured out what it is that’s so terribly momentous! Oh, but I’m not going to spend all my time begging forgiveness for everything I’m evidently somehow doing wrong.” Like the protagonist, I just want to know what all this means, but the book revels in its murkiness and taunts. I’m abandoning this at 40%, just under 100 pages in. My heart hemmed in, my eyes glazed over, my threshold for tedium exceeded long, long ago ... “What are you trying to prove?” I say, in deep trepidation.“Don’t be so supercilious,” Gladys tells me. This is a fine translation. I’m impressed by Jordan Stump’s vocabulary and control of the style and atmosphere. The story isn’t working for me, though. It’s reminded me of Kafka’s The Castle since the first pages, a book I disliked intensely. My reading experience with this book is too close to the disorienting and nightmare experience of the protagonist, Nadia, and I want out. It’s distressing, it’s inscrutable, more than anything it’s scornfully and derisively mocking.I don’t know how one can like the premise, the characters, and the psychological insights as much as I do and then turn around and say this book is profoundly boring, but that’s how I feel. Reading it is making me miserable. I can’t pinpoint just what it is that isn’t working for me. I care about these characters, I’m curious about what will happen next ... the mood just inspires a terrible sense of vertigo. “When you don’t know what you’re talking about, you keep your mouth shut,” I whisper fiercely. “These things you’re telling me don’t make any sense. What am I supposed to do with this nonsense?” If I’m going to compare this to Kafka, on paper it should be more reminiscent of The Trial (the characters have been accused and condemned by their community for something apparently self-evident that no one will clue them in on) or The Metamorphosis (seemingly overnight, Nadia and her husband, Ange, begin to represent something hideous, inspiring intense repugnance), both of which I liked. But, no, for me it’s The Castle all over again, a book I forced myself to finish for nothing, it turned out.
    more
  • Tiffany
    January 1, 1970
    What in the actual eff just happened here? I. Just. Don't. Even. Know. Did not enjoy, could not put down. A conundrum.
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not sure I'm smart enough to appreciate this book. I understand that she had to revisit some of her actions and attitudes of the past but instead of clearing things up in the last chapter, it left me more confused. The meat eater storyline, the outcome of the husband relationship, what was the issue of her grandchild's name?
    more
  • Adeline
    January 1, 1970
    Je me suis vraiment demandé où elle voulait en venir et puis j'ai compris! Un peu dingue mais haletant et finalement pas si dingue...
  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    Captivating at first, a little wearisome and aimless by the end. (It might just be that I was eager to begin a newly printed, just delivered, old tome.) NDiaye's strength is evinced in the meticulous analysis of encounters between people, whether just missed or barely survived, fleeting or lifelong. She is very much attuned to the dynamic undercurrents of what may appear as a static surface. It is not the hallowed monologue of Ye Olde Introspective Narrator, rather more like the capacity to enco Captivating at first, a little wearisome and aimless by the end. (It might just be that I was eager to begin a newly printed, just delivered, old tome.) NDiaye's strength is evinced in the meticulous analysis of encounters between people, whether just missed or barely survived, fleeting or lifelong. She is very much attuned to the dynamic undercurrents of what may appear as a static surface. It is not the hallowed monologue of Ye Olde Introspective Narrator, rather more like the capacity to encompass and observe a given moment from a greater array of its fractal, clashing, often undecidable perspectives. So the voice is that of a comfortable educated secular urbane bourgeois gradually surrendering to a hysteria by which all she thought she was becomes unreal, and the reality is unthinkable. The wound in an other ("A Country Doctor" being the inescapable precedent) manifests our own desperately repressed lesions and scarred unease. Like pinkish peroxide in cold pools, NDiaye renders the very sizzle at the infected membrane between skin and society. "How could I not have known?"That is a deep sounding, one that can in fact only be fathomed by someone already drowning in it. It's always-already too late, the lightning revelation held in an incommunicable last breath. Nadia, the narrator (and an anagram of NDiaye?), does not die but nothing of her survives either. A life led under the presumption of Exemption, of irrevocable membership in the Elect, layered by years of what "we should" do and "it's best that we" think, high ideals and noble asceticism, the imponderable expanse of the real pre-consciously eclipsed every second, are dissolved by the acidic complex of guilt, shame, and suspicion. "Oh God, what was he looking at? What are they all seeing that I'm not, what is it that they know and I don't? Where was I all this time, when I should have been seeing and knowing?"Idiots love to squawk "If you ain't done nothin wrong you got nothin to hide!" The absolutely modern retort, to which NDiaye contributes a spellbinding yet lucid variation, is: "What must I have done wrong to be so punished?" The Law never tells, except insofar as the obscurity of the infraction is matched by the severe precision of the sentence.
    more
  • Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
    January 1, 1970
    this is what people mean when they use the term literature... Ndiaye has oodles of writing talent, an abundance of it... i LOVED just reading the words on the page, sometimes i had to go back and re-read to comprehend how they fit the narrative their phrasing and tone were so beautiful... lots of emotions run through this tale, not all of them definable or comfortable, but always severely and irrefutably powerful... i was at times unsure where the story was going, or what i missed, or misinterpr this is what people mean when they use the term literature... Ndiaye has oodles of writing talent, an abundance of it... i LOVED just reading the words on the page, sometimes i had to go back and re-read to comprehend how they fit the narrative their phrasing and tone were so beautiful... lots of emotions run through this tale, not all of them definable or comfortable, but always severely and irrefutably powerful... i was at times unsure where the story was going, or what i missed, or misinterpreted, but it was always a strong feeling of immersion... quite likely some symbolism i missed, but Ndiaye really puts a lot on the page to consider, and reconsider... just wow.
    more
  • Jenny Womack
    January 1, 1970
    Given the reviews, I wanted to like this book, but I really did not. In fact, I only skimmed the last half, trying to find something I could use to pull me into the story, but no. I can't stand the main character, Nadia...granted she isn't supposed to be likeable but the more I read, the more I disliked her. The author's writing style felt too choppy to me, though I do think it was an intentional choice. But for me story is key & this story didn't speak to me as it clearly did to others. To Given the reviews, I wanted to like this book, but I really did not. In fact, I only skimmed the last half, trying to find something I could use to pull me into the story, but no. I can't stand the main character, Nadia...granted she isn't supposed to be likeable but the more I read, the more I disliked her. The author's writing style felt too choppy to me, though I do think it was an intentional choice. But for me story is key & this story didn't speak to me as it clearly did to others. To each her own.
    more
  • Jonathan yates
    January 1, 1970
    This is worth the effort. Initially reading this book, I felt a strong dislike for this book, yet by the end of it I am ordering the other books that this lady has written. This book is written on many levels, it tackles first and foremost the alienation of living in this world, how we interact with each other and the horrible cruelty that we all live with in our everyday actions.
    more
  • June Scott
    January 1, 1970
    Reading My Heart Hemmed In was not only a worthwhile experience in itself, but one that also enriched my understanding of other books by NDiaye. She writes about race and ethnicity in a way that is both delicate and brutal. I find her books require some perseverance but they reward and haunt the patient reader.
    more
  • Eva
    January 1, 1970
    This is a nightmarish book, and for a long while you can't tell if it's all allegory or if the main character is losing their sanity and going paranoid. It does a clever thing, where the victim slowly moves into an oppressor. Taunting us with how we all never seem to question our own goodness in the stories we inhabit. The suspense and the weirdness of it all is masterful. So well written, and so consistently uncomfortable to read.
    more
  • Abbigail Rosewood
    January 1, 1970
    A waking nightmare. Nauseating in the best way. NDiaye's sentences, her close observations, deliberate withholding, slow reveal all work superbly to fill me with dread. Psychologically nuanced. So much momentum. I bow down to her genius.
  • Brooks
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so dark.Like the other NDiaye book I read (Ladivine) this deals with family and shame and being the other. At times I wanted to scream along with Nadia and demand to know what was going on. A book with a truly enveloping atmosphere.
  • Kinsey
    January 1, 1970
    This was more experimental of a novel than I am used to reading, and I don't think I understood the majority of it. That said, I was intrigued by the story and characters. This was a book club pick, so I'll be interested to hear what others have to say about it.
    more
  • Candy VanderPump
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone hates you. Like, everyone. What’s the common denominator? You.
Write a review