Complete Review: All My Friends a Nice Introduction to Marie NDiaye
NDiaye has a very nice touch with her writing. There’s a clarity and crispness to it, even as her characters are often in a sort of fog, uncertain of their own place and position. The stories end not in a clear resolution, but an open-ended amplification of what led to this point — most clearly in ‘The Boys’, where a character longs for escape but finds anything but when his wish is granted.
While we’re running down NDiaye reviews, I should mention the Goodreads review of it by the critic K.Thomas Kahn. Kahn, who has reviewed for the Los Angeles Review of Books, 3:AM Magazine, Music & Literature, Berfrois, and others, certainly knows good literature, and had this to say:
NDiaye takes her time to parse the information with which she first bombards the reader (and her characters), starting in medias res both in terms of narration and also in terms of psychological tension. The build-up, and what she withholds, are crucial to her pacing and plotting. One example of what I mean here is how a conversation occurs between one main character and a man whose first name is given for several pages; it is only toward the end of the conversation that the omniscient narrator places the qualifying “her husband” before his name, causing the conversation that just ensued to have an intimacy that was removed and in effect displaced.
Each of these stories is devastating in its own way, dealing with subject matter that might be hard for some people to fathom with the open mind that NDiaye begs of her readers. Searing insight is on each page here, too, into how we distance ourselves in our past and present relationships with others; how we distance ourselves from the truth in order to remain as inviolable as we possibly can; and how the ties that bind—familial and those that we choose—can involve making decisions that, to outsiders, might seem to be unethical or immoral but which, in our state of confusion and panic, seem the only logical way out.