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women, gender roles, racism, Africa, migrations, otherness, revolution, death, grief
Gabriela Babnik's fifth novel relates to Marie N'Diaye book Three Strong Women and its title Three Deaths alludes to both its structure and content. In the first part we read the story of Mama, an African woman whose brother has returned from Europe upon the death of their mother. Part two tells the story of Ida, whose father, a former journalist and Africa and Middle East correspondent, committed suicide in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The third part, intertwined with the first two stories, is a fictional biography of Mariam Sankara, the widow of murdered Burkinabe President Thomas Sankara, whose body was thrown on a rubbish dump.
The theme of the first story is racist attitudes towards a black man in a European environment which makes him decide to return to the place of his origins, the second looks at the collapse of the media landscape in Slovenia since the 1990s, and the third discusses women in times of revolution and the rivalry between love and politics. Three parts that intertwine in time and space describe the lives of the protagonists, each marked by the death of someone close to them, and how they handle the presence of the deceased.
Stories told in three different women's voices between Burkina Faso and Slovenia touch upon the return from Europe to Africa, crossing between cultures, (the subtlety of) racism, intergenerational and family history, uprooting and otherness, revolution, writing, and also intimacy, love and pain.
Three Deaths is a meditation on important and often not only concealed but unarticulated themes that Gabriela Babnik manages to address in a unique way, so characteristic of her writing, which she after initial examination, without a trace of moralisation, leaves to the reader for their own understanding.