Tropic of Violence by Natacha Appanah, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan
Published by Graywolf Press, 2020
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This swift yet impactful novel set on the French islands of Mayotte weaves together multiple voices to paint a harrowing picture of the damage being done to children caught up in the refugee crisis.
Marie is a nurse working in Mayotte, a cluster of French territory islands in the Indian Ocean. When a young refugee from nearby Comoros abandons her baby, Marie takes him in and raises him as her own. Thirteen years later, Moïse finds himself orphaned for a second time when Marie dies abruptly, forcing him onto the dangerous streets that are ruled by gangs of fellow wayward children who have fallen through the cracks of this fractured society.
Moïse is a clever choice of central character to base this particular story around. His faltering sense of identity means he is uniquely positioned to expose just how pervasive the poverty and violence sweeping across Mayotte have become. Though he was raised by a white local, his black skin serves as a clear indicator of his refugee beginnings, and the residents of Mayotte act with increasing hostility towards perceived outsiders like him who they feel are taking over their land.
You can pick up a copy of Tropic of Violence by clicking here.