Fifteen-year-old Noemi has no choice but to leave school and work in the house of the wealthy De Grandbourg family. Just across the road from the slums where she grew up, she encounters a world that is starkly different from her own – yet one which would have been all too familiar to her ancestors. Bewitched by a pair of green eyes and haunted by echoes, her life begins to mirror those of girls who have gone before her.
Within Noemi’s lament is also the herstory of Mauritius; the story of women who have resisted arrest, of teachers who care for their poorest pupils and encourage them to challenge traditional narratives, of a flawed Paradise undergoing slow but unstoppable change.
In Riambel, Priya Hein invites us to protest, to rail against longstanding structures of class and ethnicity. She shows us a world of natural enchantment contrasted with violence and the abuse of power. This seemingly simple tale of servitude, seduction and abandonment blisters with a fierce sense of injustice.Request more information
ENGLISH (WEL) | The Indigo Press
FRENCH | Éditions Globe
CATALAN | Sembra Llibres
Winner of the Jean-Fanchette Prize 2021
"Riambel bravely grasps the complexity of ethnic relationships in Mauritius . . . displaying great art in the sense of shame blended with indignation and in the gaps in what is not said.” J. M. G. Le Clézio, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
"In the span of a mere 160 pages, this extraordinary debut packs rare insight into the trauma and deference seeded by the long reign of capitalism and the white man’s whims." The Cardiff Review
"I was astounded by the blistering prose and originality in Priya Hein’s stunning debut . . . Against the backdrop of uncomfortable and, at times, disturbing fragments depicting abuse, rape and exploitation, I loved the way the richness of the local Mauritians’ culture is depicted: through culinary recipes, oral history, poetry and songs woven beautifully into the narrative. It’s a slim novel but one that punches deeply and screams aloud. It invites us to oppose the injustice of the longstanding structures of class, hostility and white capitalism." Nataliya Deleva, author of Four Minutes and Arrival
"With Riambel, Priya Hein has given us a book that should be essential reading for all those who care about our history, in particular the devastating legacy of slavery; but what is extraordinary is that she tells this harrowing story in the most beautiful prose, luminous and musical, drawing in the reader before hitting them hard with the reality of her young narrator's life, and the humiliations and pain she endures because of this very legacy. Today more than ever, this story needs to be told; Priya Hein does so movingly and powerfully." Ananda Devi, author of Eve Out of Her Ruins