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Additional Information
ISBN: 9781949641196
Pages: 178
Size: 4.5"x7"
Publication Date: September 14, 2021
Distributed By: Publishers Group West

Kaya Days

by Carl de Souza
Translated from French by
Jeffrey Zuckerman

A hazy, riotous novel from the Mauritian writer Carl de Souza and award-winning translator Jeffrey Zuckerman, Kaya Days reimagines the 1999 island uprising as an explosive journey to the end of the night animated by huge personalities, revolutionary violence, and the possibility of another world.

“This isn’t a night for theater. All the drama will be outside.”

In 1999, the Mauritian musician Joseph Réginald Topize, better known as Kaya, was arrested for smoking weed while performing at a concert. Following his death in police custody just days later, the island nation surged with violence in a long-overdue demand for justice from the colonized peoples of the East African island nation.

In Kaya Days, the spirit of the island and its many people—Creole, Indian, French, British—is distilled into a young woman’s daylong search through the uproar for her younger brother, who has gone missing. Amid burning cars and buildings, opportunists and revolutionaries, Santee rises into another world—a furious, brilliant one. An exhilarating journey from a small Hindu village to the big city, and from innocence into womanhood, Carl de Souza’s surreal English-language debut, artfully translated from French by Jeffrey Zuckerman, is an explosion of politics and poetry, a humid dream-world of revolutionary fervor where seemingly anything—everything—is possible, if only in this night.


Kaya Days strives to recreate not so much a reality as a truth… [Carl de Souza’s] fluid yet dense prose conveys, with flecks of poetry, an extraordinary journey of the soul set, over the course of Kaya Days, against a backdrop of upheaval. His characters live through these events and remain themselves, even as they endure the aftershocks of riotous violence. His novel, which has to be read again and again to fully comprehend its scope, is a rock thrown into seemingly calm waters that will make waves for a long time after.”Le Soir (Belgium)

“Even more than [Mauritius’s] ethnic tensions, which he delineates meticulously, Carl de Souza trains his gaze on the humanity of these beings abandoned by all and guides us deep into a world with no limits left.” L’Express (Mauritius)

“Through the lens of femininity and childhood, the story delves in an unprecedented manner into the themes of innocence and cruelty. The striking prose interweaves a frenetic style and a rising, almost-shrill rhythm in a dreamy way. The achingly personal relationships of these stupefying days reveal a deep-rooted perspective of the island’s history.” L’Humanité (France)

“[Kaya Days] lays bare clashes of communities, brutalities and kindnesses across generations, pleasures and escapes through Carl de Souza’s attentive, vivid prose.” Libération (France)

Jeffrey Zuckerman is a translator of French and the Digital Coordinator at Music & Literature Magazine. His translations include Ananda Devi’s Eve Out of Her Ruins, the diaries of the Dardenne brothers, and Jean Genet’s The Criminal Child. He has also contributed shorter pieces to FriezeThe New RepublicThe NYRDailyThe Paris Review DailyThe White Review, and VICE. Jeffrey studied English literature and literary translation at Yale University, and has served as a judge for the PEN Translation Prize and the National Translation Award. He is a recipient of a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant for his ongoing work on the complete stories of Hervé Guibert.

The night before, he had been with his friends, everything had been going swimmingly, they had been raiding a gas station, had knocked over no less than six cars and to top it off, out by Chebel, they’d tackled a bus and the police hadn’t been able to move its burnt carcass until around midnight. He was helpless as he watched her pry off her shoes and walk barefoot on the cobblestones. The coolness soothed her and she slowed her pace: there was no rush anymore. If you don’t want to, that’s okay, she said. He looked around. The women were going right past them, talking loudly, the oldest one was scolding the others for having rushed, for not having taken the time to pick and choose. The others were laughing under their breath and pushing the cart this way and that. It was sagging with frozen foods, chickens, and cuts of beef dripping a trail along the ground. If they followed this blood-tinged trace, would they reach some source of plenty? He hardly seemed to need this lead. She let him take her hand this time and, together, they crossed Royal Road. He led her straight to the Arcades. Other people were coming out, jangling and clattering their carts as well, but rather than go right into the crowd in front of the grocery store, the guy turned off toward the clothes shops. Here, everything was still calm, and a subdued light bathed the fashion shop’s slender mannequins and bouquets of dried flowers. Santee rushed over to look. Multicolored tee-shirts hung off a dead tree and on a stretch of sawdust standing in for a beach, as if they had washed in with the tide, were pink and green and yellow shoes and pumps, sunglasses. In the background was the frozen burble of an emerald sea.