Vengeance Is Mine by Marie Ndiaye [4/10]

Distinguished and much lauded French novelist and playwright Marie Ndiaye has penned Vengeance Is Mine, positioned (at least in the English-speaking markets) as a literary thriller. A provincial Bordeaux lawyer lands the case of her lifetime, hired by a man to defend his wife against the charge of drowning their three children. Immediately she remembers him as an older boy who somehow may have violated her in childhood, and her life is turned upside down by memories and vague thoughts of revenge. The author burrows into her protagonist’s mind and some scenes are evocatively drawn, but from the start, I found myself baffled by a formless plot and by stilted dialogue. A feverish atmosphere is well developed but the ending disappoints, and my abiding feeling from the swift read was incomprehension, a bafflement that irked rather than intrigued.

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