Ananda Devi

Biography

Ananda Devi was born on 23 March 1957 in Trois-Boutiques, Mauritius, an island particularly notable for its confluence of diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic identities. A descendent from Andhra Pradesh in India on her mother’s side, and Creole on her father’s, conversant in Telegu, Creole, French, and English, as well as Bhojpuri and Hindi, Devi in many ways encapsulates both the hybridity of Mauritian culture and the singularity of the individual Mauritian. Indeed, as she herself has stated in an interview with Patrick Sultan in December 2001, and to which her literature often testifies, to be Mauritian is always to be both multiple and particular: ‘faire partie de tous ces mondes, et à travers un processus de synthèse et de syncrétisme, en extraire quelque chose de neuf et d’authentique’.

Displaying a prodigious writing talent, Devi won her first literary prize at the age of fifteen for a short story in a Radio France Internationale competition. She went on to concentrate on ethnology and anthropology over the next few years, her studies culminating in a doctoral thesis at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London. In the meantime, Devi continued to develop her literary career, working as a translator and publishing a collection of short stories, Solstices, in the late 1970s. During the 1980s and 1990s, Devi’s primary focus returned to literature, and she produced a handful of texts through Indian Ocean and African publishing houses, including her first novel Rue la Poudrière.

After a few years spent in Congo-Brazzaville, Devi moved to Ferney-Voltaire in Switzerland in 1989, publishing Le Voile de Draupadi and L’Arbre fouet with L’Harmattan in the 1990s, and Moi, l’interdite with Dapper in 2000. With an increasing readership, both popular and academic, across the French-speaking world, Devi’s next novel Pagli was published in 2001 in Gallimard’s ‘Continents noirs’ collection. The beginning of the millennium proved a particularly productive time for Devi, with Soupir, La Vie de Joséphin le fou, and the collection of poetry, Le Long Désir, following in quick succession. Her next novel, Ève de ses décombres, was met with tremendous critical acclaim and published in Gallimard’s ‘Collection blanche’, followed by Indian Tango and, most recently, Le Sari vert.

The island of Mauritius acts as a backdrop to the majority of Devi’s texts and she is particularly interested in exploring the experience of alterity within the confines of the Indo-Mauritian world. Above all, her work considers the construction and confinement of femininity in such a society from varying positions of marginality and liminality – among them, madness, trauma, illness, disability, prostitution, adultery and homosexuality. Despite her focus on representations of suffering and the struggle for autonomy – and at times examples of extreme violence and destruction – Devi’s writing is generally characterised by an intimate poetic and lyrical style. Equally, the social realities that are brought to the fore are often framed within narratives that draw upon fantastical and poetical elements that serve to displace identity, temporality and narrative representation.

Devi’s writing has been translated into several languages, though to date only Pagli is available in English translation (translated by Devi herself). Currently, Devi lives and writes in Switzerland, and is considered to be one of the most important and exciting francophone Mauritian writers on the contemporary scene.

Literary prizes awarded to Ananda Devi include:

2001 Prix Radio France du Livre de l’Océan Indien (Moi, l’interdite)
2006 Prix des Cinq Continents de la Francophonie (Ève de ses décombres)
2007 Certificat d’Honneur Maurice Cagnon du Conseil International d’Études Franophones
2007 Prix Télévision Suisse Romande (Ève de ses décombres)
2010 Prix Louis-Guilloux (Le Sari vert)

Compiled by Amaleena Damlé (Cambridge)

Bibliography

Solstices (Port-Louis: Regent Press, 1977); new edition with author preface (Vacoas: Le Printemps, 1997)

‘Aspects of kinship and marriage among Telugus in Mauritius’ in Indian Overseas, the Mauritian Experience, ed. by U. Bissoondoyal (Moka: Mahatma Gandhi Institute, 1984)

Le Poids des êtres (Rose-Hill: Éditions de l’Océan Indien, 1987)

Rue la poudrière (Abidjan: Nouvelles Éditions Africaines, 1989); new edition (Vacoas: Le Printemps, 1997)

The Primordial Link: Telugu Ethnic Identity in Mauritius (Moka: Mahatma Gandhi Institute, 1990)

‘Identité ethnique Telegoue et pratiques religieuses à l’ile Maurice’ (Vivre au Pluriel, Production sociale des identités à l’Ile Maurice et à l’Ile de la Réunion, Saint-Denis: Université de la Réunion, 1990)

La Fin des pierres et des âges (Rose-Hill: Éditions de l’Océan Indien, 1993)

‘Lakshmi's Gift’ [Translation by D.S. Blair]: The Heinemann Book of African Women's Writing ed. by Charlotte H. Bruner (London: Heinemann, 1993, pp. 85-89)

Le Voile de Draupadi (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1993); new edition (Vacoas: Le Printemps, 1999)

‘La Découverte du Bouchon’ in Maurice: le tour de l’île en quatre-vingt lieux ed. by B. Pyamootoo and R. Poonoosamy (Port-Louis: Immedia, 1994, pp. 365-367)

‘La Mort d’Anjalay’ in Autour des femmes ed. by B. Pyamootoo and R. Poonoosamy (Port-Louis:  Immedia, 1995, pp. 67-74)

‘Le Cache-misère’ and ‘The Message’ in Maurice: demain et après / Beyond tomorrow / Apredimé, ed. by B. Pyamootoo and R. Poonoosamy (Port-Louis: Immedia, 1997, pp. 17-30 and pp. 183-192)

L’Arbre fouet (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1997)

‘Zuviel Marie’ [Translation by C. Zehnder] in Kusse und eiligen Rosen, die fremdsprachige Schweizer Literatur (Zurich: Limmat Verlag, 1998, pp. 64-70)

‘La Mosquée de paille’ in Kaleidoscope, ed. B. Pyamootoo and R. Poonoosamy (Port-Louis: Immedia, 1998, pp. 137-147)

‘Le Sari’ in Rencontres avec l’Inde ed. by S. Ramakrishnan, M. Gobhurdhun-Jani and A. Callikan-Proag (New-Delhi: Conseil Indien pour les Relations Culturelles, 1999)

‘L’Usurpateur’ in Nocturnes, ed. by B. Pyamootoo and R. Poonoosamy (Port-Louis: Immedia, 2000, pp. 9-14)

Moi, l’Interdite (Paris: Dapper, 2000)

Pagli (Paris: Gallimard, 2001)

Soupir (Paris: Gallimard, 2002)

La Vie de Joséphin le fou (Paris: Gallimard, 2003)

Le Long Désir (Paris: Gallimard, 2003)

‘Salma’ (Francofonia, 48, Spring 2005, pp. 133-137)

Ève de ses décombres (Paris: Gallimard, 2006)

‘L’Enfant du banian’ in Enfances compiled by Alain Mabanckou (Bertoua: Ndzé, 2006; Paris: Ndzé, 2008, pp. 27-38)

La Cathédrale [Film based on the novella published in Solstices; dir. by Harrikrisna Anenden] (2006)

Indian Tango (Paris: Gallimard, 2007)

‘Bleu glace’ (Nouvelles de l'île Maurice, 2007, pp. 45-69)

‘Afin qu’elle ne meure seule’ in Pour une littérature-monde ed. by Michel Le Bris and Jean Rouaud (Paris: Gallimard, 2007, pp. 143-149)

Le Sari vert (Paris: Gallimard, 2009

‘Les prisonniers’ (Riveneuve Continents, 10, Winter 2009-2010), pp. 33-43)

English Translations of Devi’s Work

Pagli [English translation by Devi] (New Dehli: Rupa Publishing, 2007)

Indian Tango [Translation by Jean Anderson] (New York: Host Publications, 2011)

Compiled by Amaleena Damlé (Cambridge)

 

Criticism

Bannerjee, Rohini: ‘L’espace littéraire mauricien: l’hétérolinguisme dans l’oeuvre francophone d’Ananda Devi’ (Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 15.5, December 2011, pp. 505-12)

Bragard, Véronique: ‘Cris de femmes maudites, brûlures du silence: la symbolique des éléments fondamentaux dans l’œuvre d’Ananda Devi’ (Notre Librairie, 146, December 2000, pp. 66-73)

—: ‘Eaux obscures du souvenir: femme et mémoire dans l’œuvre d’Ananda Devi’in Convergences and Interferences: Newness in Intercultural Practice, ed. by K. Ghyssels, Isabel Hoving, Maggie Ann Bowers (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001, pp. 187-199)

—:‘L’enfant des vagues ou de la vase: la symbolique marine dans La Vie de Joséphin le fou d’Ananda Devi’ (Women in French Studies, 15, 2007, pp. 84-97)

—: Transoceanic Dialogues: Coolitude in Caribbean and Indian Ocean Literatures (Berne: Peter Lang, 2008)

Chavy Cooper, Danielle: ‘Le Poids des êtres et La Fin des pierres et des âges d’Ananda Devi’ (Notre Librairie, 114, July-September 1993, pp. 202-204)

—: ‘Rue la Poudrière et Le Voile de Draupadi  d’Ananda Devi’ (Notre Librairie, 118, July-September 1994, pp. 171-172 and 190-191)

Compan, Magali: ‘Cette terre qui me ressemble: re-writing the Island, re-writing the self in Ananda Devi’s Pagli’ in Land and Landscape in Francographic Literature: Remapping Uncertain Territories ed. by Magali Compan and Katarzyna Pieprzak (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007, pp. 41-59)

Damlé, Amaleena: ‘Phantasmal Relics: Psychoanalytical and Deconstructive Ghosts in Moi, l’interdite and Pagli by Ananda Devi’ in Anamnesia: Private and Public Memory in Modern French Culture ed. by Peter Collier, Anna Magdalena Elsner and Olga Smith (Berne: Peter Lang, 2009, pp. 229-240)

—: ‘Towards a Poetics of Reconciliation: Humans and Animals in Ananda Devi’s Writing’ in The Postcolonial Human, ed. by Jane Hiddleston (International Journal of Francophone Studies, 15.3-4 [Special issue], 2012)

—: The Becoming of the Body: Contemporary Women's Writing in French (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014)

Effertz, Julia: ‘Le prédateur, c’est moi: l’écriture de la terre et la violence féminine dans l’œuvre d'Ananda Devi’ in Violence in French and Francophone Literature and Film ed. by James Day (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008, pp. 71-82)

Githire, Njeri R.: ‘The Semiotics of (Not)-Eating: Fasting, Anorexia, & Hunger Strike in Ananda Devi’s Le voile de Draupadi’ (Nottingham French Studies, 48.1, Spring 2009, pp. 82-93)

Goburdhun-Jani, Maya:  ‘Les notions de maternité et de couple chez Ananda Devi et Calixthe Beyala’ in L’Océan indien dans les littératures francophones ed. by Kumari R. Issur and Vinesh Y. Hookoomsing (Paris: Karthala, 2004, pp. 631-48)

Hawkins, Peter: The Other Hybrid Archipelago: Introduction to the Literatures and Cultures of the Francophone Indian Ocean (New York: Lexington, 2007)

Issur, Kumari: ‘Psychopathologies dans l’œuvre d’Ananda Devi’ in Les Représentations de la déviance ed. by Corinne Duboin (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005, pp. 203-208)

Kistnareddy, Ashwiny O.: ‘The Human-Animal in Ananda Devi's Texts: Towards and Ethics of Hybridity?’ in Women's Writing in Twenty-First-Century France: Life as Literature ed. by Amaleena Damlé and Gill Rye (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013, pp. 127-40)

—: ‘Rebelles, prostituées et meurtrières dans les romans d’Ananda Devi’ in Rebelles et criminelles chez les écrivaines d’expression française ed. by Frédérique Chevillot and Colette Trout (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2013)

—: Locating Hybridity: Creole, Identities and Body Politics in the Novels of Ananda Devi  (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2015)

Lionnet, Françoise: ‘Evading the Subject: Narration and the City in Ananda Devi’s Rue la Poudrière’ in Postcolonial Representations. Women, Literature, Identity by Françoise Lionnet (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995, pp. 48-68)

—: ‘Les Romancières des Mascareignes: Lyrisme, témoignage et subjectivité féminine’ (Notre Librairie, 118, July-September, 1994, pp. 86-90)

Marson, Magali: ‘Carnalité et métamorphoses chez Ananda Devi’ (Notre Librairie, 163, September-December 2006, pp. 64-69)

Meitinger, Serge: ‘L’innocence meurtrière: humanité et animalité dans quelques récits d’Ananda Devi’ (Francofonía, 17, 2008, pp. 161-178)

Raharimanana, Jean-Luc: ‘Moi, l’interdite’ (Notre Librairie, 142, October-December 2000, pp. 74-75)

Ramharai, Vicram:  ‘Ananda Devi: repenser l’identité de la femme mauricienne’ (Notre Librairie, 146, October-December 2001, pp. 7-10)

—: ‘La ville de Port-Louis dans Rue de la Poudrière d’Ananda Devi’ in  L’Océan indien dans les littératures francophones ed. by Kumari R. Issur and Vinesh Y. Hookoomsing (Paris: Karthala, 2004, pp. 373-383)

—: ‘La relation fille-père au sein de la famille hindoue dans les oeuvres d’Ananda Devi’ in Relations familiales dans les littératures française et francophone des XXe et XXIe siècles: I. La figure du père ed. by Murielle Lucie Clément and Sabine Van Wesemael (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008, pp. 115-24)

Ravi, Srilata: ‘Religion, Health and the Hindu woman in Mauritius: Ananda Devi’s Le voile de Draupadi’ (Kunapipi, 28.1, 2006, pp. 67-78)

—: Rainbow Colors: Literary Ethno-topographies of Mauritius (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007)

—: Ravi, Srilata: Rethinking Global Mauritius. Essays on Mauritian Literatures and Cultures (Mauritius: L'Atelier d'ecriture, 2013)

Soobarah Agnihotri, Jeeveeta: ‘Un oiseau mort: Entre chute et envol’ (Rencontre avec l'Inde, 34.1, 2005, pp. 51-59)

—: ‘Indian Tango ou la danse de la sens-ualité dans la trans(e)gression’ (La Plume Francophone, 16 March 2008 [online at http://la-plume-francophone.over-blog.com/article-18479486.html])

Sultan, Patrick: ‘L’enfermement, la rupture, l’envol: lecture de Pagli d’Ananda Devi’ (Orées, 1.2, Autumn 2001-Winter 2002)

Tyagi, Ritu: ‘Rethinking Identity and Belonging — "Mauritianness" in the Work of Ananda Devi’ in Islanded Identities: Constructions of Postcolonial Cultural Insularity ed. by Maeve McCusker and Anthony Soares (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2011)

—: Ananda Devi: Feminism, Narration and Polyphony (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2013)

Waters, Julia: ‘Ton continent est noir: Rethinking Feminist Metaphors in Ananda Devi’s Pagli’ (Dalhousie French Studies, 68, Autumn 2004, pp. 44-55)

— [ed.]: L’ici et l’ailleurs: Postcolonial Literatures of the Francophone Indian Ocean (e-france, Journal of French Studies, 2 [Special issue], 2008 [online at www.reading.ac.uk/e-france])

—: ‘From Continents Noirs to Collection Blanche: From Other to Same? The Case of Ananda Devi’ in L’ici et l’ailleurs, Postcolonial Literatures of the Francophone Indian Ocean (e-france, Journal of French Studies, 2 [Special issue], 2008 [online at www.reading.ac.uk/e-france], pp. 55-74)

Zupančič, Metka: ‘Ananda Devi dans le feu révélateur et transformateur des mythes’ (Cahiers du GRELCEF 6, 2014 ), available online at http://www.uwo.ca/french/grelcef/2014/cgrelcef_06_text10_zupancic.pdf


Compiled by Amaleena Damlé (Cambridge)

 

Interviews

Abraham, Marie: ‘L’Ile Maurice: Source inépuisable d'inspiration’ in ‘La route des Indes’ (Journal du Salon du Livre, 2, 16/17 October 1999, pp. 10-11)

Barrot, Olivier: ‘Le Sari vert d’Ananda Devi’ (Culturebox, France 3, 16 October 2009; online at http://culturebox.france3.fr/all/16027/le-sari-vert-d_ananda-devi#/all/16027/le-sari-vert-d_ananda-devi)

Corio, Alessandro: ‘Entretien avec Ananda Devi’ (Francofonia, 48, Spring 2005, pp.145-167)

Mongo-Mboussa, Boniface: ‘Entretien avec Ananda Devi: Contre la culte de la différence’ (Africultures, 1 February 2001; online at http://www.africultures.com/index.asp?menu=revue_affiche_article&no=1743)

Nair, Nandini: ‘The Art of Belonging’ (Metro Plus Dehli, The Hindu, 18 October 2007’;l online at http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mp/2007/10/18/stories/2007101850300100.htm)

Nkonlak, Jules Romnuald: ‘Ananda Devi, Bessora, Angeline Solange Bonono: L’expression “littérature féminine” ne veut rien dire’ (Quotidien Mutations, 5 January 2007; online at http://www.quotidienmutations.info/mutations/64.php?subaction=showfull&id=1168010892&start_from=&ucat=64&)

Sultan, Patrick: ‘Ruptures et héritages: Entretien avec Ananda Devi’ (Orées, 1.2, Autumn 2001-Winter 2002)

—: ‘Ruptures et héritages: Entretien avec Ananda Devi (deuxième partie) (Orées, 2.3, Winter 2002-Spring 2003)

Tchak, Sami: ‘Ananda Devi ou l’intime conviction de l’écriture’ (Présence francophone, 70, 2008, pp. 45-51)

Torabully, Khal: ‘L’Ile intérieure; entretien avec Ananda Devi’ (Notre Librairie, 142, October-December 2000, pp. 58-65)

‘L’écriture est le monde, elle est le chemin et le but’ (2003) and Peut-être est-ce l’Inde mythique qui m’habite’ online at http://www.indereunion.net/actu/ananda/intervad.htm

‘Trois questions à Ananda Devi’ (2009) online at http://www.gallimard.fr/rentree-2009/AnandaDevi.htm

Compiled by Amaleena Damlé (Cambridge)