cover image This Little Family

This Little Family

Inès Bayard, trans. from the French by Adriana Hunter. Other, $15.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-89274-687-0

Bayard’s stunning debut tracks the devastating impact of a woman’s rape on herself and her family. After Marie, a young financial consultant in Paris, is raped by the CEO at her bank, she tells no one about the attack. A few weeks later, on a picnic with her husband, Laurent, and her parents, sister, and baby nephew, the “pitiful ordinariness” of questions about her job “shoots through her head at the speed of sound,” and she imagines driving a knife into her belly. Still gripped in a spiral of misery, Marie discovers she is pregnant. Though she and Laurent have been trying to conceive, she’s certain the baby is her rapist’s. After giving birth to her son, Thomas, a desperate and suicidal Marie eventually returns to her job and leaves Thomas at day care for as long as possible. Bayard’s chronicle of Marie’s breakdown escalates with blistering depictions of Marie’s intense neglect of Thomas and of the household (“I’ve never been able to wash him because his penis disgusts me”; “I now think throwing things in the trash is just another modern pastime we should avoid”), with a defiant, feral energy that has echoes of Elena Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment. As Laurent catches Marie in various lies and senses her distance, he becomes suspicious of the child’s paternity. Meanwhile, Marie decides to take action, leading to a tragic, harrowing conclusion. Marie’s indelible voice makes this a powerful study of sexual violence and its aftermath. (June)