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Eve Out of Her Ruins

Eve Out of Her Ruins

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By Ananda Devi
Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman

Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, 2024
Winner of the 2017 CLMP Firecracker Award for Fiction

A harrowing account of the hidden violent reality of life in her native country by the figurehead of Mauritian literature.

Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Paperback: 9781941920404
eBook: 9781941920411


"Devi writes about terrible and bitter events with a soft, delicate voice." Le Figaro

With brutal honesty and poetic urgency, Ananda Devi relates the tale of four young Mauritians trapped in their country’s endless cycle of fear and violence: Eve, whose body is her only weapon and source of power; Savita, Eve’s best friend, the only one who loves Eve without self-interest, who has plans to leave but will not go alone; Saadiq, gifted would-be poet, inspired by Rimbaud, in love with Eve; Clélio, belligerent rebel, waiting without hope for his brother to send for him from France.

Eve Out of Her Ruins is a heartbreaking look at the dark corners of the island nation of Mauritius that tourists never see, and a poignant exploration of the construction of personhood at the margins of society. Awarded the prestigious Prix des cinq continents upon publication as the best book written in French outside of France, Eve Out of Her Ruins is a harrowing account of the violent reality of life in her native country by the figurehead of Mauritian literature.

The book features an original introduction by Nobel Prize winner J.M.G. Le Clézio, who declares Devi “a truly great writer.”

Biographical Note

Ananda Devi was born in 1957 in Trois-Boutiques, Mauritius, an island notable for its confluence of diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic identities. She studied ethnology and anthropology, and completed a doctoral thesis at SOAS in London. After several years in the Congo, she moved to Switzerland in 1989. She has published eleven novels as well as short stories and poetry over her entire career. Eve Out of Her Ruins, originally published by the prestigious Gallimard publishing house in France in 2006, was an enormous critical and popular success, winning the Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie for the best novel of the year written in French, previously won by such writers as Alain Mabanckou and Mathias Enard. She was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 2010. Her first novel in English, Indian Tango, was published by Host Publications in 2011. Devi has participated in numerous literary festivals in the US, Europe, and India, and her works have been translated into numerous languages.

Jeffrey Zuckerman is Digital Editor at Music & Literature magazine and a translator from French. He has served on the 2016 jury for the PEN Translation Prize, and his translation of Antoine Volodine’s Radiant Terminus is forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2017. His writing and translations have appeared in Best European Fiction, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Paris Review Daily, the New Republic, and VICE. Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clzio was born in 1940 in Nice, France, but both parents had strong family connections with the former French colony of Mauritius. He is president and long-standing member of the prize jury for the Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie (awarded to Ananda Devis Eve Out of Her Ruins in 2006), and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008.


Winner of the 2017 CLMP Firecracker Award for Fiction
Awarded the "Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie" in 2006
Included in World Literature Today's "75 Notable Translations of 2016"

"One of Devi and Zuckerman's greatest triumphs in this book is that each character has their own distinct rhythms, with power and poetry drawn from the cadences of their speech... It could be a manifesto for reading translated fiction, and this stunning short novel is a perfect starting point." Deborah Smith, The Guardian

"The beauty of Devi's prose belies the horror of the world she conjures up. This is a visceral portrait of violence rendered honestly and gracefully." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Eve Out of Her Ruins is a spare, traumatic and enriching novel, newly and superbly translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman... Her characters emerge from the page with arresting immediacy and startling vividness. This is a novel that can take you to fathomless depths." Matthew Adams, The National

“Zuckerman's translation is artful... While descriptive, the sparse language adds to the sense of hopelessness and the scarcity in which the characters live.” Hannah Wise, Dallas Morning News

"The most vivid novel I’ve read in ages, magnificently translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman. The gorgeous, profoundly poetic writing is completely mesmerizing and viscerally affecting.” Jennifer Croft

"The desolate, poor, and often-violent lives of the island’s inhabitants are exposed in the stark and lyrical prose of Ananda Devi’s brief and revealing novel... Devi’s trenchant yet terse prose perfectly captures the lives of these sad and forgotten outcasts from this small island nation.” Melissa Beck, World Literature Today

“A remarkable book that is as much a call to action as it is a love story, Devi beautifully juxtaposes the beauty and despair of the island through her dreamy, ethereal prose, and the audacity of her characters’ ambition.” Laura Farmer, Cedar Rapids Gazette

"Eve’s coping, her delicious revenge and small acts of goodness by other characters give the translation a hopeful tone. Eve sidesteps poverty and abuse — the true antagonists in the novel — and Devi’s poetic writing provides portraits of characters who force their own bodies into mattering." Allison Cundiff, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“In this heartbreaking lightning-paced novel, Ananda Devi burns down all of the colonialist stereotypes surrounding the island, instead depicting a place that has been devastated by history and anguish.” Adam Hocker, Staff Pick at Albertine Books

"A story that stays with the reader long after it's read." Michael Barron, The Culture Trip

"A novel of conversations, emotions, aspirations, and setbacks... This is a novel of haunting language with a powerful message about gender and violence." Terry Pitts, Vertigo

“Devi’s powerful novel has stuck with me weeks after finishing and Zuckerman’s lively translation captures the intensity of the daily struggle for life the teens face.” Caitlin Baker, Seattle City Literature

“Zuckerman’s translation is confident and accomplished, capturing the marine clarity of the prose without losing any of its poetic heat.” Anjuli Raza Kolb, Bookforum

“[Eve’s] journey, harrowing and doomed as it may be, is described with unforgettable poetry and power.” Willard Manus, Lively Arts

"Irresistable." Gary Kaill, The Skinny

"This prize-winning novel is a poetic and intense exploration of young lives thrown away by society. Told in four different voices and haunted by the specter of Rimbaud, Devi explores, the violence, identity, and dreams of young people living discarded lives. For fans of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and Jean Genet." Josh Cook, Porter Square Books

“Heartbreaking and honest.” The Wild Detectives bookstore, Dallas

"The emblematic figurehead of Mauritian literature." Le Monde

"One of the most gorgeous things I’ve read in a long time… the book reads as a beautiful and complex chord whose disharmonies combine into something shimmering and fragilely resonant.” Sarah McCarry, The Rejectionist

“With every page, I fall more in love with this book.” Lissie Jaquette

"Turning her back on the illusion of eternal youth, Devi focuses unflinchingly on that tipping point in life that only women can understand, since where sex is concerned men and women must forever remain "mutually unintelligible." Yes, here is a truly great writer, since when we finish Devi's book we are unlikely to know what has motivated her to write such a story, such a cry of protest. But its music, its powerful grip on the reader...give us a glimpse inside the cave where once a love-struck monk, under the spell of the dark angel of the imagination, succeeded in creating the miracle all artists dream of, reshaping reality according to his desires." J.M.G. Le Clézio, Le Novel Observateur

"Devi writes about terrible and bitter events with a soft, delicate voice." Le Figaro

"One of the major literary voices of the Indian Ocean." PEN American Centre

"The work of Ananda Devi is both tragic and poetic. Haunted by the issues of exclusion, of otherness, deviance and suffering, it denounces the stifling climate of a society...it stands against any form of rejection and offers a genuine commitment...for the recognition of otherness." Véronique Bragard

“Through the distinct narratives of four young Mauritians, Ananda Devi unfolds a kaleidoscope of elegiac poeticism and harrowing immediacy, magically bestowing brilliance to the dark and violent corners of their lives. Eve Out of Her Ruins twists the reader’s mind into a brutally honest and heartbreaking knot, which cannot be undone.” —Jarrod Annis, Paul Lisicky, and Pia Padukone, Word Bookstore (Brooklyn, NY)

"The detailing of these lives is like dabs of paint on a watercolour canvas which grows and spreads, hinting at incidents, creating an atmosphere that hangs heavy." —Sumitra Kannan, The Deccan Herald

"Devi's succinct graphic sentences, which vividly evoke such events, also convey sensual and even poetic imagery. Poetry remains a permanent, if mostly remote horizon, a sort of reminder of 'something else' in the harsh world in which the characters must survive." —John Taylor, Arts Fuse

"Eve Out of Her Ruins is a pleasure to read, with Zuckerman doing excellent work on the variety of voices Devi uses, a vital combination to the success of the novel. Just as much, though, it's the character of Eve that makes the story, an enigmatic figure ghosting through the novel, perhaps best seen when the dark background is set against occasional rays of light and happiness." —Tony Malone, Tony's Reading List