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Marie NDiaye: Metamorphosis and Disintegration

Marie NDiaye: Metamorphosis and Disintegration

Researcher: Dr Andrew Asibong

Funded project: Arts & Humanities Research Council, 01/01/2012-30/09/2012

Dr Andrew Asibong’s research, ‘Marie NDiaye: Metamorphosis and Disintegration’, culminated in the monograph Marie NDiaye: Blankness and Recognition (Liverpool University Press, 2013), the first critical study in English to focus exclusively on the work of the French author, Marie NDiaye. Born in central France in 1967, she is widely considered to be one of the most important French authors of her generation. She won the Prix Femina (2001) and the Prix Goncourt (2009), and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize (2013).

Marie Ndiaye (big image)

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, split-off 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 literary-critical, psychoanalytic and psychosocial 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’.

Professor Dominic Thomas, UCLA, writes, ‘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.’

Michael Sheringham, Marshal Foch Professor of French, University of Oxford, commends it as ‘A highly intelligent and distinguished book that will be seen as a milestone in the well-deserved critical recognition of a major writer.’

Other outputs include

Three book chapters:

  • ‘Marie NDiaye et le rire blanc’ in Rires en francophonie (ed. Violaine Houdart-Merot, Cergy: CRTF, 2013)
  • ‘(Not) seeing things: Marie NDiaye, negative hallucination and “blank” métissage’ in Women’s Writing in Twenty-First-century France(eds. Amaleena Damlé and Gill Rye, University of Wales Press, 2013).
  • ‘Autour de la mère morte’ in Une femme puissante: l’œuvre de Marie NDiaye(eds. Daniel Bengsch and Cornelia Ruhe, Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2013).

Three peer-reviewed journal articles:

  • ‘The spectacle of Marie NDiaye’s Trois femmes puissantes’, Australian Journal of French Studies, 2013.
  • ‘Marie NDiaye, the half-self and the white “dead” mother’ (c. 9000 words), in The Postcolonial Human, special issue of International Journal of Francophone Studies (ed. Jane Hiddleston, 2013)
  • ‘NDiaye’s intelligent subjects’, in Marie NDiaye’s Worlds/Mondes de Marie NDiaye, special issue of L’Esprit Créateur, eds. Warren Motte and Lydie Moudileno, 2013.