by Priya Hein
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.