I want to thank the School of Arts at Birkbeck for allowing me a term’s research leave to start writing this book and the AHRC for the nine-month Early Career Fellowship I needed to finish it.
Naomi Segal offered me crucial guidance and expert editing as the book’s final shape emerged. For palpable contributions to my decade of thinking, feeling and writing around NDiaye’s work, I thank Lydie Moudileno, Anne Martine Parent, Clarissa Behar, Daniel Bengsch, Sarah Burnautzki, Shirley Jordan, Michael Sheringham, Jean-Yves Cendrey, Patrick ffrench, Thomas Deltombe, Sandrine Fauvin, Dominique Rabaté, Cornelia Ruhe, Hannah Eaton, Hywel Probert, Silke Arnold-de Simine, Chantal Quiquine, Jim Lattimer, Pauline Eaton, Andrew Billing, Aude Campmas, Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield, Warren Motte, Emma Campbell, Frank Lowe, Corinne Ranaraja, Nora Cottille-Foley, Daniel Rosen, Nathalie Wourm, Rémi Astruc, Marie-Claire Barnet, Charles Forsdick, Peter Hallward, Nick Harrison, Cécile Laborde, Johanna Malt, Edlira Mandis, Ana de Medeiros, Christophe Meurée, Dominic Thomas, Adam Thirlwell, Emma Wilson and (ce Suisse qui n’est pas mon frère) Nicolas Xanthos. I am indebted to several cohorts of undergraduate and postgraduate students at Birkbeck who have helped me shine a beam of intense darkness on NDiaye’s texts over the years, and also to Hywel for his quixotic fraternity, Frank for his alpha function, Chantal, Eleanor and Silke for being so present, and HSG for the surprise of real community. Cheryl and Giorgia help me to value where I came from, Donna and Laura help me to cherish where I am, and Hannah’s cover image grasps my dream of blankness in a way that bears witness not only to her artistic genius but also to the uncanny flows of our discours vivant.
I owe Marie NDiaye herself more than words can say, but dedicate this book to Suzanne Dow, my November ’77 consœur (“an excellent vintage!” as she once put it), in solidarity and rage.