Maybe you’ve seen My Heart Hemmed In being talked about lately—possibly you’ve read the excerpt in Granta, or maybe you’ve read the rave review in the current issue of Harper’s. My Heart Hemmed In is our latest book from NDiaye, but I want to take a second to tell you about how we got started with her.
Marie NDiaye was the second author that Two Lines Press ever published. That book was All My Friends, a remarkable grouping of five bracing pieces that both felt very familiar but also completely new. It introduced me to NDiaye’s incredible psychological depth, as well as her ability to carefully pace a story and draw out each revelation bit . . . by . . . bit . . . for maximum impact. In these stories I could see an author working on the levels of allegory and realism all at once, a surreal sort of logic that seemed to talk about subjects like xenophobia, racism, and class differences, yet without ever coming right out and saying anything.
I can still remember the day we first read the sample from All My Friends. It had come through NDiaye’s translator, Jordan Stump, a name quite familiar to me from all of the legendary French writers whose work I’d read in his gorgeous English renderings. Jordan hadn’t been able to find anyone to take NDiaye on, and now here we were, flabbergasted at the quality of this writing. It was an obvious yes, but also much more than that—it wasn’t simply that we wanted to do the book, it was that we felt privileged to be entrusted with the publication of such masterful writing.
After discovering NDiaye through All My Friends, we were quite eager to have another bite of the apple when Jordan approached us with NDiaye’s exceedingly bizarre, novelistic memoir Self-Portrait in Green. This little book is one of my favorites of all the titles we’ve done, and it’s proven to be one of our biggest word-of-mouth hits: it just sucks you in with its crazy logic, and it’s got a passionate feel that makes you want to share it with other people. I love putting this book into people’s hands.
And now we come to My Heart Hemmed In, our biggest NDiaye yet, and the book that many people consider to be her greatest effort. This utterly strange, completely truthful look at the lives of two people despised by their community is a true world, the kind of book that you can keep finding deeper and deeper levels in, more and more nuance. It’s stunning.
If you’ve never read NDiaye, I hope you take a chance on her and go big this summer, by getting all three titles in our All NDiaye All the Time! collection. She’s the kind of writer we really like here—that is, the kind that is even more rewarding the more you read her. She just gets better and better the more you read her work, bigger and bigger the more you learn about the people and situations she creates. Enjoy, and I hope you find Marie NDiaye just as stunning as we have!