From the best-selling author of Three Strong Women comes a thrilling novel about a triple homicide that dredges up unsettling memories from a lawyer’s childhood.
The heroine of Marie NDiaye’s new novel is Maître Susane, a quiet middle-aged lawyer living a modest existence in Bordeaux, known to all as a consummate and unflappable professional. But when Gilles Principaux shows up at her office asking her to defend his wife, who is accused of a horrific crime, Maître Susane begins to crack.
She seems to remember having been alone with him in her youth for a significant event, one her mind obsesses over but can’t quite reconstruct. Who is this Gilles Principaux? And why would he come to her, a run-of-the-mill lawyer, for such an important trial?
While this mystery preoccupies Maître Susane, at home she is increasingly concerned about Sharon, her faithful but peculiar housekeeper. Sharon arrived from Mauritius with her husband and children, and she lacks legal residency in France. But while Maître Susane has generously offered Sharon her professional services, the housekeeper always finds ways to evade her, claiming the marriage certificate Maître Susane requires is being held hostage. Is Sharon being honest with Maître Susane, or is something more sinister going on?
Told in a slow seethe recalling the short novels of Elena Ferrante and the psychological richness of Patricia Highsmith’s work, Vengeance Is Mine is a dreamlike portrait of a woman afflicted by failing memories and a tortured uncertainty about her own past that threatens to become her undoing.
Marie NDiaye was born in Pithiviers, France. She is the author of Rosie Carpe, winner of the Prix Femina, and of Three Strong Women, winner of the Prix Goncourt. She is also the recipient of the Gold Medal in the Arts from the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts. She lives in Paris.
*Selected for Vogue and Literary Hub’s most-anticipated/best books of 2023 lists*
“Sinister and spellbinding . . . Half suspense novel, half dark fairy tale, Vengeance is Mine is a literary tour-de-force.” -- Literary Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2023”
“The unsettling Vengeance Is Mine (Knopf) from Marie NDiaye, winner of France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt, has the magnetism of a thriller and the mysteriousness of an existential riddle….This is a novel of unraveling certainties and of a middle-class life encroached upon by nightmares. You may not fully unlock its mysteries—it’s slim, a good length for a reread—but you won’t be able to put it down.” -- Vogue
“[NDiaye] is a master at agitating, probing and upending expectations…In Vengeance Is Mine, NDiaye circles a familiar configuration of ideas: trauma and memory, class anxiety, isolation and otherness, the warped savagery of domestic life, the rupture between parents and their children. But she also considers the texture of justice — what it means, how it’s determined and who enacts it…Appreciating this moody, sensual and sometimes feverish prose requires submission — to the grooves of language, the performance of storytelling.” -- Lovia Gyarkye, The New York Times Book Review
“The magnificence of [NDiaye’s] writing, in all its shocks of perception, makes you feel that by rights her name should come with the same pantheonic glow that attends, say, Annie Ernaux or Elena Ferrante…What makes her a master? In part, it’s NDiaye’s deft interweaving of those narrative traits we associate with genre fiction, specifically crime thrillers—suspense, mystery, intrigue, a touch of the supernatural—with a high-modernist sensibility in thrall to the shifting, refractive nature of memory, unsettled selfhood, and intersubjectivity tout court…What a feat…that the author invariably marshals these strains into lucid sophistication, not least in her newest book, the superbly controlled Vengeance is Mine.” -- Hermione Hoby, 4Columns
“Magnetic and intense . . . [NDiaye] is equally adept at both small-scale psychological character insight and virtuosic structural shifts. . . . NDiaye turns in another ferocious tale.” -- Publishers Weekly
“A novel of concentric haunting, summoning ghosts into the room with prose that shimmers, cuts, and sings. Unflinching and restrained, Vengeance Is Mine sails its readers into uncharted psychological waters. I was hypnotized from the first word to the last.” -- Tess Gunty, author of The Rabbit Hutch
[H] Alfred A. Knopf / October 17, 2023
1.26" H x 8.35" L x 5.83" W (1.05 lbs) 240 pages