EVE OUT OF HER RUINS
Translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman
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, who has plans to leave but will not go alone; Saadiq, gifted would-be poet, inspired by Rimbaud, in love with Eve; Clelio, 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, a poignant exploration of the construction of personhood at the margins of society, and a harrowing account of the violent reality of life in Devi’s native country by the figurehead of Mauritian literature.
Read an excerpt on LitHub.
Winner of the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie 2006
Finalist for the inaugural TA First Translation Prize 2018, the Albertine Prize 2017 and the Best Translated Book Award 2017
‘Here is a truly great writer.’ – J. M. G. Le Clézio
‘This. Book. Is. Excellent.’ – Lisa Lucas, National Book Foundation
‘Devi’s prose is both thoughtful and torrential in its force.’ – Le Monde
‘One of the major literary voices of the Indian Ocean.’ – PEN American Centre
‘...one of Devi and Zuckerman’s greatest triumphs in this book is that each character has their own distinct rhythms, with power and poetry drawn from the cadences of their speech ... narration is extraordinary, shifting between describing solid, often sordid details with vivid precision, and soaring into more abstract passages that echo the ebb and flow of the sea that 'surges, escapes, shatters' on the island’s shore ... Together these voices provide a stunning immersion in Troumaron, an impoverished area of Port Louis, and in the surges of teenage lust ... [a] stunning short novel.’
– The Guardian
‘The power of this haunting novel is its universality; the stark contrast between the pleasures of the rich and the struggles of the poor has been explored previously, but Devi breathes new life into a familiar conflict by offering four interwoven perspectives, with each narrator affected differently and tragically by the impossibility of changing their circumstances. The beauty of Devi’s prose belies the horror of the world she conjures up. This is a visceral portrait of violence rendered honestly and gracefully.’
– Publishers’ Weekly (starred review)
‘The novel’s voices are distinct, but they all flash with the hot mirages of adolescence—all four kids see with the hard certainty of desire things that are and aren’t there... Devi’s novel is of a piece with an important strand in postcolonial feminist writing that locates the central tragedy of survival in the necessity of repeated leave-takings, which are always acts of betrayal—betrayal of home, of history, of nation, of those who stayed....The challenges of getting Devi’s tropical-guttural-teenage mood right are considerable, but Zuckerman’s translation is confident and accomplished, capturing the marine clarity of the prose without losing any of its poetic heat.’
– Anjuli Raza Kolb, Bookforum
‘“One day we wake up and the future has disappeared.” So begins adult life in Troumaron, a run-down area of Port-Louis, in Mauritius. But Devi’s young protagonists resist this erasure; boldest among them is Eve, one of the most compelling fictional characters I’ve ever encountered – she’s up there with Ferrante’s Lila. And fans of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels will also recognise in Devi’s account of marginalised urban lives a similar commitment to the truth of how the dispossessed struggle. An extraordinary novel, beautifully translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman.’
– Natasha Soobramanien, author of Genie and Paul
‘I was so locked into Eve out of Her Ruins, I went the wrong way down the Piccadilly line for 6 stops.’
– Lara Pawson, author of This Is the Place to Be
‘I read it in two huge swallows on the train and then did that embarrassing thing of being so wrecked by a book I started weeping in public and everyone around me politely averted their eyes. It is a hard book, I’m not gonna lie, but also one of the most gorgeous things I’ve read in a long time.’
– The Rejectionist
‘Ananda Devi confronts us with instances of great pain and suffering, yet seldom without embracing the redemptive qualities of attentiveness, spirit, beauty.’
– The National (Abu Dhabi)
‘Eve begins: “Walking is hard. I limp, I hobble along on the steaming asphalt. With each step a monster rises, fully formed.” This novel is a telling about how the monster came to be formed. ... ferocious and unforgettable.’
– Full Stop Magazine
‘A remarkable book that is as much a call to action as it is a love story, Devi beautifully juxtaposes the beauty and despair of the island through her dreamy, ethereal prose, and the audacity of her characters’ ambition.’
– The Gazette
‘Eve’s coping, her delicious revenge and small acts of goodness by other characters give the translation a hopeful tone. Eve sidesteps poverty and abuse — the true antagonists in the novel — and Devi’s poetic writing provides portraits of characters who force their own bodies into mattering.’
– Allison Cundiff, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Read more reviews here.