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Drie sterke vrouwen

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,615 ratings  ·  380 reviews
Drie verhalen, drie vrouwen: Norah, Fanta en Khady Demba. Norah moet van haar vader naar Senegal komen om haar broer te verdedigen voor de rechtbank. Fanta volgt haar blanke man naar Frankrijk, waar hun huwelijk zware averij oploopt. Khady Demba, een jonge weduwe, wordt op weg gestuurd naar Europa. NDiaye laat op een respectvolle en ingetogen manier zien hoe deze vrouwen v ...more
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published March 2011 by De Geus / Oxfam Novib (first published August 20th 2009)
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Average rating 3.22  · 
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 ·  2,615 ratings  ·  380 reviews

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Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "sorrowful, exquisite, anguishing" stars !!

2016 Silver Award -2nd Favorite Read (Tie)

Winner of the 2009 Prix Goncourt (France)

I will start by restating the three little updates I gave while I was reading

At 29 %

Novella 1 in this book is about Norah....and I feel all tingly, and sad and afraid. African literature can move me so much that I often avoid it as it permeates my being !! More to say when I finish the book and write the review.

Suffice it to say Novella One is a full five stars !!

At 7
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an easy read, but it is powerful and memorable. The book is in three sections which are almost independent of each other, which makes it very difficult to assess as a unified whole. All of them talk of journeys between France and Senegal.

I can't resist talking about the final section first. This is an unflinching, powerful and harrowing depiction of a journey undertaken by a poor and ignorant woman who has been rejected by her dead husband's family in Senegal and is trying to reach F
How does the fact that others are doing well diminish you?
Out of all the Prix Goncourt-winning books I've read, this one has the lowest rating on Goodreads. It's doing worse than coprophilic Nazis, colonial pedophilia, ferociously internalized misogyny, and some of the longest sentences that ever longed. It bugged and bugged to the point that, feminist with a strong streak of engineering mentality that I am, I went and crunched the data of the books on my own to read shelf, specifically
What varied postures humans assume after traumatic events. Some reside in stoic resilience, their screams silent on the inside, because the human need to communicate vocally, has been mentally eviscerated. Some live in anguished existence, blaming the world, blaming fate, while others choose to react aggressively, sometimes harming others, sometimes harming themselves.

This book could be called Three Strong Stories, instead of Three Strong Women, especially since the three parts seem to stand al
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prix-goncourt
It is brave to call a book like this "Three powerful Women"!

And it is fitting too, as the women described never give in or give up despite living the hell of poverty, dependence and patriarchal power structures - surrounded by violent and greedy men who take what they want from them without ever stopping to consider their needs or even to recognise they are human at all.

Locked in a marriage with a pathological control freak, outside your country, among people who judge you by your skin colour?
Three abrasively unpleasant stories snagged on overlapping locations, like Khady's torn leg and torn ear, snagged and then torn loose by impersonal brutality, a world that wounds.

NDiaye's style reminded me of other extremely 'interior' texts, in particular The Hour of the Star. The prose is sophisticated, almost deliberately awkward and consciously repetitive. The grim subject matter demoralised me to the point of wanting to abandon reading, and the magical elements only enhanced the mood of mis
Creative writing exercise: I'll give you the words that I had to look up. Not all of them, but the ones I remember, mostly because they were repeated. Often. 1. Write a story that includes all these words. 2. Use them early, use them often. This will ensure that, by some magical means, they become imbued with Deeper Significance.

flamboyant - (no, not flamboyant. That would be too easy) a flame tree.

tongs - flip-flops

hotte - extractor fan hood over the cooker (or not quite, in this case)

Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2009
If I were the sort of person who writes one-word reviews, I’d say: “intriguing”. Because this book is definitely intriguing. Don’t be put off by the long sentences, occasional editorial glitches and some repetitions – in the end “Three Strong Women” is a rewarding book. Marie Ndiaye might prefer commas to periods but she can write. And it’s still an improvement from her debut novel, which, I hear, was a 200 page long and contained only ONE sentence, so obviously Ndiaye is overcoming some innate ...more
“…she didn’t lament her present state, didn’t want to change it, and even found herself in a way delighted, not at her suffering but simply at her condition as a human being confronting as bravely as possible all sorts of perils.”

I’m so happy to have discovered Marie NDiaye. She is a woman of the world: born to a French mother and Senegalese father, raised and educated in France, and now living in Berlin. Much of the new fiction I’ve read that is considered innovative seems gimmicky to me. Not t
Leslie Reese
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-authors
This strikes me as being three loosely-connected novellas rather than "a novel." The prose is tense and haunting, and the women featured in these stories are more painfully human rather than heroic. Three Strong Women isn't the type of book to read in a hurry with your heart shut down and NDiaye isn't willing to prettify complicated situations to make them neat, manageable and easy to digest. ...more
Friederike Knabe
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, african-lit
Marie NDiaye's Trois femmes puissantes is an intricately crafted, complex and thought provoking book. It doesn't initially feel like a novel as it comprises three 'novellas', three fictional accounts that each explores one individual's life at a crucial moment in time. Yet, reflecting later on content, writing and structure I felt that it falls into the category of novel: the stories are linked in subtle ways through imagery, peripheral characters, atmosphere and themes.

NDiaye's novel comes ali
Proustitute (on review hiatus)
He'd worked so hard at persuading himself of the contrary that he was no longer sure what was true and what wasn't.
The first woman of color to win the prestigious Prix Goncourt, Marie NDiaye is certainly a gifted, uncompromising writer. Her collection All My Friends was my first foray into her work, and, in some ways, the stories there are stronger than the "novel" Three Strong Women; however, similar themes of how isolating intimacy can be, how identity is subsumed beneath others: at the pe
Ronald Morton
First, a tip of the hat to the Conversational Reading blog, it’s only due to the Interesting New Books 2016 post (here) that I was made aware of this author. I really should pay more attention to the Prix Goncourt winners, but it’s sometimes difficult to remember to follow up on the books, as there is typically a lag between the win and the eventual translation. That said, I’ve yet to read a Prix Goncourt winner that was not exceptional, and that avenue requires additional investigation (like I ...more
This read was for the 2011 French Female Writers Throughout the Ages reading challenge, 21st century novel.

There were quite a few books I wanted to read in the 21st century category. I picked this one for several reasons, one of which being that having studied African-American literature and especially African-American women writers, I thought it might be interesting to have a look at what black women were doing in France. Second of all, the author was involved in some sort of scandal (at least
Jim Elkins
Limitations of Bourgeois Writing

This won the Goncourt Prize in 2009, and has been reviewed ecstatically. I read the principal novella of the three, the one that occupies two-thirds of the book. It is an unappealing book: conservative and full of clichés. For me, the meliorating quality was the oddity of Ndiaye’s way of thinking.

At first it appears that what matters to Ndiaye is the construction of elaborate long sentences that produce introspective surprises. Those sentences are often in single
Sotiris Karaiskos
The second book of the author I read and this time after the excellent impressions that the first book left me this time my impressions are more mixed. That is mostly because of the structure of the book, in essence each of its three parts is a separate story, which makes the result more unequal.

In the first part we come across a family story. Its heroine visits after a long time her father with whom she has been completely alienated. Through this visit, family secrets and bitterness of the past
Jul 19, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you can't tell from the one lonely star up there, I did not like this book. It is three stories. That claim to be connected, therefore forming a novel. Well a name gets used in two of three stories and the main character from the third shows her face in the first, so I supposed that connects them?
I don't have much time for the artifice of literature. But I feel as though that is all that book is. Really strained surrealism. Sentences that last a paragraph just because they can. I mean truly,
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Makes me want to read more of NDiaye's work! ...more
I reacted fairly poorly to this, and I'm not entirely sure why. Three Strong Women tells the (very) loosely interconnected stories of three women, each of whom is also connected to Senegal and to France. Norah is in Senegal, visiting the father she does not quite fear anymore; Fanta immigrated to France because of her French husband (whose POV takes us through the story); Khady is trying, not entirely of her own accord, to reach France.

From the beginning, I think, I was put on my guard by how un
I've wanted to read this novel since it first came out. I proposed it to a couple of my reading groups but it did not get picked (and I am glad-more about that in a minute.) Then her second book at Knopf (Ladivine) came out this spring and got me excited again so I read this one first.

It was not difficult to read, in fact I couldn't put it down, but it was emotionally tough. The three women (called Three Powerful Women in the French title) are loosely connected mainly by the experiences of eit
This book is exquisitely and powerfully written – well deserving of its Prix Goncourt – yet it is not one that I would recommend to anyone I know. The three separate stories, which relate to each other only by thin strands of connection, give us a glimpse into the strength of three Senegalese women. But their strength is not of the conquering and victorious kind. It is the burdened endurance of women who manage to pull forth some sense of dignity out of horrific circumstances.

Marie NDiaye’s pros
Beautifully written, this book comprises three stories with some common themes and threads.

All stories have links between France and Senegal, the many ways men try to control women, and includes metaphors through flight and flowers. All the three main female characters show strength and a belief in their actions.

The first and third stories, written from the woman's perspective were the more interesting but also the saddest.

The middle story was written from the man's perspective and was the long
"[A]ll she knew of life was what she'd lived through"

There seems to be some difficulty letting people of color into the academic mainstream. A recent study found that 90% of books reviewed by the New York Times Book Review were by white authors. What's more baffling is the response taken when this gets pointed out. There seems to be a massive knee jerk reaction of "well I don't consider myself to be racist, so why should I care the race of the author I read?", which, while not flat out biased, s
Claire O'Brien
I really struggled with the sentence structure in this book - it may have been the translation, but I found I had to re-read sentences several times to understand them. I also found the story difficult to follow at times - I don't know if it was a form magical realism, but it wasn't magical enough for that I felt, but at times I wondered what had just happened. I was also disappointed that it was three separate stories that didn't interconnect very well, beyond a connection between France and Af ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot help it. I am a sucker for a good NPR review.
Bernard James
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Indefatigable inner strength. The type of quiet but continuous resolve to persevere in the face of adversity is the focus of Marie Ndiaye's latest novel. By opening a window onto the lives of her central characters, she paints three separate but consistent vignettes of pedestrian interaction that expose us to multiple levels of exasperation, despair and subsequent endurance.

"He was like that, implacable and terrifying."

This is how Norah, our first protagonist describes her father as Three Strong
Louise Silk
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Three Strong Women is actually three separate stories. The first is Norah who's come back to Senegal at her distant father's request. The second is Fanta who's left Senegal years ago and now lives a mediocre life in France with her alienated husband. And finally Khady, who is forced into exile by her in-laws following the death of her husband.

I loved Norah's storyline and was really disappointed when I realized there was an abrupt halt with no ending. Fanta's story is told through the eyes of a
Robert Wechsler
The title of this book should have been "Three Powerful Women," because this isn’t about women being strong as much as it is about the women’s power over their lives. In fact, one of the three women isn’t even the protagonist of the tale she appears in (and she appears only from her husband’s point of view). We have no idea how strong she may be.

[Note: the title is generally not the translator's fault, it's a marketing decision; "Strong" sounds better and could be seen as likely selling better.]
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories, l-french
I want to give this four stars, but I had such a miserable experience reading the second novella that my tongue was permanently soured. First and third novellas were great. This is an incredibly unique piece of fiction, but also one where I'm going to stick to reading the reviews of others. ...more
Lucy Timmins
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really moving novel (three short-ish stories?) Three women entirely unknown to each other travel between France and Senegal for various reasons. All three stories so beautifully written and with incredibly vivid characters. Sharp psychological insight runs through the novel, especially part two.

Not sure why part two (the biggest story) was entirely focused on Fanta’s husband, rather than Fanta herself. Though he was a fascinating character and I did still enjoy the section.

Only wish I’d have re
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Marie NDiaye was born in Pithiviers, France, in 1967; spent her childhood with her French mother (her father was Senegalese); and studied linguistics at the Sorbonne. She started writing when she was twelve or thirteen years old and was only eighteen when her first work was published. In 2001 she was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina literary prize for her novel Rosie Carpe, and in 2009, she won ...more

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“The beam of light flashed across her own face and she thought, Yes, me, Khady Demba, still happy to utter her name silently and to sense its apt harmony with the precise, satisfying image she had of her own features and of the Khady heart that dwelled within her to which no one but she had access.” 5 likes
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