It is not uncommon for writers of fiction to start young. But even by their standards, Alice Zeniteris precocious.
Her first novel was written when she was just 16 while the second came into out at the age of 23.
What is more impressive is that she isn’t merely dealing with the sort of topics usually associated with authors of this age – romance with an autobiographical touch – but with serious subjects about the society and even politics.
Take This Man
Her second novel, ‘Take This Man’ impressed me immensely because, as against what I thought, this was not an autobiographical novel at all. It’s an extremely layered story about a white French girl who has grown up with her best friend nicknamed ‘Mad,’ a boy from an immigrant family that has come from Mali. She now has to marry him because he would be deported otherwise as per the new laws that are being imposed.
This is where the novel dives into the world of French politics with the victory of Jean-Marie Le Pen in the primaries of France’s presidential elections in 2002. In spite of not being a veteran author, Zeniter, who has named her protagonist after herself, refrains from reducing her characters to cardboard cutouts. Instead, she gives a good insight into the mind of her heroine who looks back at her life and her friendship with Mad over the years.
To have such a subtle understanding of human mind and restraint of emotions in her writing is extraordinary. On top of that, to not give into the urge of venting your spleen at your political opponents, something that young writers are wont to, is another very impressive accomplishments.
It won’t be unfair to say that she is yet to reach her peak and yet to become counted among the best contemporary novelists. However, she is well on her way to reach there.