Marie Darrieussecq was born in Bayonne in 1969. She studied literature and other subjects at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, and in 1997 she earned a doctorate in French literature. She had already begun to write as a child, and while working on her doctorate, she published her first novel, »Truismes« (1996, Eng. »Pig Tales«, 1997), which won her international respect from both critics and readers and was translated into over 30 languages. Darrieussecq later resigned from her teaching activities at Lille University and became a full-time writer.
Through an internal monologue »Pig Tales« describes the protagonist’s bizarre transformation from a young woman into a pig. By the time her metamorphosis is complete, Paris is teetering on the brink of a political, social, and moral abyss, and she flees into the forest. Critics interpreted »Pig Tales« as a political parable, a social satire, and a novel of female emancipation.
Darrieussecq’s second novel »Naissance des fantômes« (1998, Eng. »My Phantom Husband«, 2001) uses striking imagery to describe the personal experiences of a woman seeking her vanished husband. The loss of a family member and the emotions arising from this loss are also at the heart of the complexly structured novel »Bref séjour chez les vivants« (2001, Eng. »A Brief Stay With The Living«, 2004), which is told through four intertwined stream of consciousness narratives. Shortly after the birth of her first child, she published »Le bébé« (2002, Eng. »The Baby«, 2019), a humorous examination of motherhood. »Tom est mort« (2007, Eng. »Tom is Dead«, 2013) is once again concerned with loss, and draws the reader into the desolate thoughts and feelings of a mother who has lost her son. Her first stage play, »Le Musée de la mer« (2008, tr: The Museum of the Sea), had its première in Reykjavik in early 2009. In 2008, Darrieussecq also published »Tristes Pontiques«, a new translation of Ovid. Her novel »Il faut beaucoup aimer les hommes« (2013; Eng. »Men«, 2016) tells the story of a white actress who follows a black film director to Africa in richly illustrated and intense language. In 2016, Darrieussecq presented her biography of the artist Paula Modersohn-Becker »Être ici est une splendeur« (Eng. »Being Here Is Everything: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker«, 2017), in which she traces the artist’s short life in her struggle for independence in an art world dominated by men. In her most recent novel, the dystopia »Notre vie dans les forêts« (2017, Eng. »Our Life in the Forest«, 2018), a former psychiatrist flees from a completely digitalized and networked world into the seclusion of the woods, where she writes out her life story in the hope that somebody will be able to read her exhortation before the human apocalypse.
Marie Darrieussecq was nominated for the 1996 Prix Goncourt for »Truismes«. She received the Prix Médicìs in 2013 for »Il faut beaucoup aimer les hommes.« She lives in Paris.
Anja Franke/Franziska Zwerg