Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi
This slim volume is such a harrowing experience, some may balk at continuing once the fate of the titular Eve becomes clear. Translated from Mauritian writer Devi's original French, Jeffrey Zuckerman's essential introduction explains how he combined the author's preferred written language with trace elements of Mauritian Creole in this new English version of her 2006 novella. If one of his key objectives was to retain the spare poetry of her native prose, he has triumphed. For while the events that take place against a stark backdrop of political instability and social injustice are difficult to acknowledge, the language of Eve Out of Her Ruins is irresistable.
Narrated in turn by four characters, each memorably drawn, the book charts the life of teenager Eve, on whom unspeakable cruelties are visited by the men of the island capital Port Louis. Her friend, Savita; the troubled dreamer, Saadiq; the wolfish and ultimately cowardly gang member, Clélio: all three 'support' characters are unique and identifiable. But it is Eve whose voice lingers. Devi gives her a clear-sighted and expressive worldview, one that brings a flinty beauty to the uglinness that surrounds her – "This troubled water, this murky world, this faraway smile like a moonlit night, when the wind comes to whisper things that make us pensive and sad" – while her strength and resolve slowly levers a way out of an impossible hell. [Gary Kaill]