February 2019 book reviews

Connexion journalists read the latest French releases. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time

Tropic of Violence, Nathacha Appanah

Maclehose Press Editions, £14.99 ISBN: 978-0-85705-773-0

If you fancy a glimpse of a France far removed from the one most of us know geographically and socially – you could do much worse than pick up Tropic of Violence, a short but hard-hitting novel set on the newest French department Mayotte.

At the same time gritty and poetic, it tells of a French nurse, Marie, who moves to this far-flung island in the sea between Madagascar and Mozambique, to marry her boyfriend (who is Mahorais – the term for someone from Mayotte) only to find herself dumped a few years later when another woman catches his eye.

It may be France’s poorest region
but Mayotte is still wealthier than its neighbouring islands and a target for refugees who come on rickety boats and face early-morning queues for paperwork (with which some British readers may now sympathise...), often suffering from injuries and illnesses.

One of them, a young woman, abandons her baby with Marie, who brings ...

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