cover image Waiting for Tomorrow

Waiting for Tomorrow

Nathacha Appanah, trans. from the French by Geoffrey Strachan. Graywolf (FSG, dist.), $16 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-55597-803-7

In Appanah’s rewarding follow-up to The Last Brother, Adam, a painter and aspiring architect from provincial France, is talked into attending a New Year’s Eve party in Paris, where he feels hopelessly out of place. He takes refuge in a pile of coats on the couch; only Anita, a Mauritian-French girl who feels similarly lonesome, has gotten there first. Of course, they fall in love, delighting in their differences and shared creative dreams. After marriage, pregnancy, and the death of Anita’s father, they decide to move to the region where Adam grew up. While Adam settles back in quickly, Anita flounders in a small town where her difference is noticeable and her education is considered unfavorable and untrustworthy by the locals. The strongest sections of the book belong to Adèle, their nanny. Adèle came to France from Mauritius, where she laid to rest the pain of her past life. She and Anita meet by chance, and soon Adèle is hired to care for Adam and Anita’s daughter. Anita and Adam find themselves separately intrigued by Adèle’s stoicism and her story. The novel begins and ends with Adèle’s death, but the true tragedy, Appanah implies, is the inherent imbalance that exists in any relationship and how easily it is exploited. Though there is a concision to Appanah’s language—or perhaps the translation—that holds the reader at an arm’s distance, the characters are complicated and well-drawn and the story immersive. (Apr.)