cover image The Living Days

The Living Days

Ananda Devi, trans. from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman. Feminist, $15.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-936932-70-2

Devi’s visceral and chilling novel (after Eve Out of Her Ruins) is a profound portrait of two people living on London’s margins. Seemingly as different as two people can be, Mary, a white spinster in her late 70s, and Cub, a 13-year-old black boy from the housing projects of Brixton, come together by chance outside Mary’s derelict home on the Portobello Road. Mary—“just a shadow, sometimes reflected in a window pane, one of those old women people avoided seeing at all”—has nothing: her only lover disappeared during WWII, more than 60 years ago, and she has lost her ability to make a living after a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. She lives in filth and a desperate dream of how her life could have been, until Cub shows up out of the blue. To escape his cramped and chaotic home, Cub begins to stay at Mary’s, doing odd jobs and seemingly giving her a reason to live. As their relationship changes and deepens, both characters’ motives alternately muddle and sharpen, culminating in an act of violence and ownership that feels inevitable from their very first meeting. Devi’s telling of their relationship is brutal and entirely believable, a gorgeous and haunting depiction of London and the real lives and memories of those unseen within it.[em] (Nov.) [/em]