Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: WAITING FOR TOMORROW, by Nathacha Appanah

Waiting for Tomorrow, by Nathacha Appanah. Published 2018 by Graywolf Press. Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan.

Mauritian writer Nathacha Appanah first came to my attention with the release of 2011's The Last Brother, about a friendship between two boys on Mauritius during World War 2. That book was lyrical and haunting. Waiting for Tomorrow is set in present-day France and takes as its subject a tense marriage between a Frenchman and a Mauritian and an uneven friendship between two Mauritian women but lacks none of its predecessor's beauty.

Anita and Adam have been together for twenty years; they live together with their daughter Laura in the southwest of France though they met in Paris, a city where both felt like strangers. Anita came to France as an idealistic young woman dreaming of being a writer; Adèle also comes to France from Mauritius but she is older, jaded and has suffered a great tragedy. Adèle is undocumented and vulnerable. She works for a demanding French family as a nanny when she is hurt in a car accident and finds she can no longer tolerate the indignities of her life. She and Anita meet and forge a bond. Things go well until they don't.

When the story opens Adèle is dead and Adam is in jail. There is also something wrong with Laura. Appanah takes us back and forth through time, from when Adam and Anita meet to the series of events that change everyone's life forever. Since we know something terrible will happen, suspense drives the narrative and we long for that moment when it all goes wrong.

But in the mean time Appanah shows us transformations in all three main characters, their evolution and the changes that take place as they age and interact with each other and the French society in which they live. Through it all Appanah treats us to beautiful prose, lush descriptions of place and of the mindsets of her characters. The strength of the book for me is in these characters and the way Appanah shares their points of view with us one at a time. The only time I felt a little cheated was the act of betrayal that sets off the tragedy at the book's center. It seemed so trite. Or maybe it was meant to.

In any case I'm a fan for life of Appanah's if I wasn't already after the luminous Last Brother. Waiting for Tomorrow is a wonderful, unforgettable book, about the hearts of men and women and what it means to love someone, whether that person be a lover, friend or child. Even at the end, we know the story isn't really over, and these characters will exist in your mind long after you turn the final page.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


Mystica said...

This sounds convoluted but very interesting. Thank you for the review.

Catherine said...

I'm intrigued by this- especially when you use words like lyrical and haunting. I'm on my library's hold list. Thanks for the great review, you sold me!