La Mémoire délavée by Nathacha Appanah
Nathacha Appanah’s newest book, La Mémoire délavée, reads differently from her previous prize-winning novels (Les Rochers de Poudre d’Or, Blue Bay Palace, Tropique de la violence, Rien ne t’appartient…). “La mémoire délavée is not a novel,” the French-Mauritian writer states in an interview with Librairie Mollat. “It’s a story about my grandparents.” Appanah’s background as a journalist and poet shines in her newest book, as La Mémoire délavée incorporates black and white photographs into her archival and genealogical project in order to evoke the migration of the author’s ancestors to the island of Mauritius. Flights of starlings, and the author’s grandparents, are central to the book: “They were born to fly and to survive, the meaning of their existence is contained in these two verbs,” she writes. By uncovering her ancestors’ stories, Appanah also reveals the lived histories of Indo-Mauritians, and how Indian indentured servitude came about following the abolition of slavery in the 19th century. There’s a Durassian quality in the writer’s use of prose and photography. Appanah’s use of archival materials transmits her ancestors’ washed-up memories to the reader, while preserving a form of generational storytelling.
A moving and fascinating read for history and memoir lovers!
La Mémoire délavée by Nathacha Appanah, Mercure de France
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