At stake throughout the fictional writings of Marie NDiaye (1967-) is the issue of the stranger’s welcome. NDiaye’s fascination with a spectrum of outsider figures and with the multiple, often subtle practices which create and sustain social groups as bounded entities, gives rise to detailed and disquieting portrayals not of hospitality but of the mechanisms and rituals of repulsion.
Engaging with critical theory on hospitality across the disciplines, Shirley Jordan’s closely argued analysis of NDiaye’s novels, theatre and short stories probes the tropes of inhospitality around which the writer’s work coalesces, exploring the ethical significance of a corpus in which communities, environments and spaces are persistently tainted by unwelcoming. NDiaye is seen to elaborate a fantastic anthropology: one which, through sustained attentiveness to non-observance of the rules of hospitality, provides a focus for debate about belonging in a postcolonial world.
Shirley Jordan is Professor of French Studies at Newcastle University.
‘An excellent addition to the growing corpus of NDiaye scholarship... As Jordan also convincingly highlights throughout her study, NDiaye’s work is profoundly ethical, never cynical. Her inhospitable universe challenges us to look for our own ethical compass—not a ready-made hospitality manual. And the merit of Jordan’s study is to help us chart a course. Her readings create, in our encounter with NDiaye’s text, a welcoming critical third space, a hospitable space where writer, critic, and reader read and orient themselves together.’ — Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield, H-France18.154, 2018
‘Shirley Jordan focuses her exploration in an admirably sharp and focused manner on the problem of hospitality as it arises again and again across NDiaye’s oeuvre... Jordan’s achievement is remarkable... The reader emerges from Jordan’s analysis somewhat humbled by such sustained exposure to a scholarly voice that attempts truly to put into practice its chosen theme of ethical hospitality towards its subject.’ — Andrew Asibong, French Studies 72.4, October 2018, 635 (full text online)
‘Inhospitable Fictions will interest all who have read NDiaye and all those working on her. Whether or not a reader accepts that a concern for hospitality is what ultimately drives NDiaye’s work, it will be difficult to dislodge the way in which Jordan has read her with that particular driver in mind. This monograph adds the philosophical and the anthropological lens to the psychoanalytical lens in its reading of NDiaye, introduces women into the traditionally male-based discourse on hospitality, innovatively draws our attention to the Odyssey as NDiaye’s core intertext on hospitality, and tellingly relates the repressed domestic and familial traumas that surface in her texts to the multiple inhospitalities of colonialism and post-colonial France.’ — Pauline Eaton, Modern and Contemporary France 26.4, Autumn 2018, 431-37 (full text online)
‘Jordan successfully highlights how the theme of inhospitality can work as a master key to unlock NDiaye’s eclectic textual experimentations. Because it surveys such a wide variety of the author’s texts, Jordan’s monograph can serve as an excellent introduction to NDiaye’s work.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 55.1, January 2019, 118-19
‘In this monograph Shirley Jordan undertakes a consummate examination of the theme of inhospitality which permeates the œuvre of the critically acclaimed French author Marie NDiaye... Jordan’s exceptional work makes a vital contribution to NDiayean scholarship.’ — Alison Marmont, Modern Language Review 115.1, 2020, 185-86 (full text online)