Our Lives, Unfulfilled
Number of pages
***Translation sample available***
Unfulfilled! This word howls, whispers or murmurs in our ears of so many misses and failures. It surely captures a good part of what we have to grasp in order to make sense of our joys and sorrows.
—Prologue to Inassouvies, nos vies
The hot emotions—anger, desire, ambition—are traditionally thought to beget change, but a lack of fulfillment too can alter lives. Betty, in her mid-thirties and quite alone, sits in her window and watches the people who live in the building across the street. She is particularly intrigued by a joyful elderly woman she decides to call Félicité.
When Félicité is forced into a retirement home, Betty moves away from her window and her solitude to track her down and become her friend. Betty grows into a confidante, not just of Félicité but also of the other residents in the home. She listens to their stories and in return keeps them informed about the lives of her neighbors across the street: the neglected bourgeois wife, the single “bobo-environmentalist” literature teacher on the third floor, and the elderly couple on the second floor who met in the concentration camps.
Quite suddenly, in response to a piece of news, Félicité is plunged into a deep silence. A few days later she dies. The melancholy Betty then experiences is caused by more than Félicité’s death; long-buried and painful memories emerge.
Fatou Diome : Like her novel, Fatou Diome is a warm blend of Africa and France, of small town and large city. She was born in 1968 in Niodior, a small island in Senegal. At 22, she moved to France, where she pursued a doctorate in modern literature at the University of Strasbourg. Her first novel, Le Ventre de l’Atlantique (Anne Carrière, 2003; Serpent’s Tail, 2004), was a great commercial and media success and has been excerpted in the Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing, to be published in May 2009. Her other works include the novel Kétala (Flammarion, 2006) and a collection of short-stories entitled La Préférence Nationale (Présence africaine, 2001).