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The Girl Before Her by Line Papin

The Girl Before Her by Line Papin

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A coming-of-age tale of dislocation and inherited trauma from the acclaimed young French Vietnamese novelist

'The Girl Before Her' marks the stunning English-language debut of French Vietnamese writer Line Papin. Moving from a small farming village in Vietnam to France and back again, this work of autofiction tells the story of three generations of women as they confront themselves, and one another, through war, marriage and immigration. Spare, poetic, and haunting, this novel is a meditation on what is lodged in memory and the body, and what it means to find one's self and one's place in the world. The novel’s narrator, the child of a French father and a Vietnamese mother, finds herself uprooted and adrift after she moves from the sunshine and chaos of Hanoi, where she was born, to the gray, cold worlds of Toulouse and Paris. This unexpected, unexplained rupturing of her childhood world causes a painful rift in her sense of self—one that ultimately leads to her being hospitalized for anorexia. Gripped by a deep sense of uncertainty about who she is and where she belongs, she becomes preoccupied with understanding what persists—both in the body and in memory—regardless of where one lives or what languages one speaks. Written as a meditation on the urgency of finding a place for oneself in the world is a passionate argument for the self-forgiveness that can only come from deep self-examination. It has been described as “inflected with the flares of Marguerite Duras.” 

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