JULY BOOK OF THE MONTH: Thirty: A Novel by Marie Darsigny

An ardent, vulnerable, and bold novella about exiting the cult of youth.

Thirty is the story of a woman who has always been convinced that she is going to die at the age of thirty. Addressing those who will read it posthumously, she documents the last year of her life in a dark, obsessive diary. In this movement towards the end, other women are drawn: spectral muses, heroines-ghosts, suicide writers. “The sad truth is that my favourite muses are depressed,” Marie Darsigny writes in the opening chapter. Anglo and Franco muses like Nelly Arcan, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Marie-Sissi Labrèch, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Michelle Tea, and Angelina Jolie are conjured to explore ideas of mental illness and ​​aging. Through a skilful integration of their works, these muses participate in the raw exploration of female suffering. The narrator creates a universe where the ghosts of heroines exist and who, in turn, allow her to exist.

The text embodies the capacity of literature to name and welcome both the personal introspection and social analysis of its theme. Through a prism of ideas, quotes and poetry, this book asks what does it mean to succeed in life? Thirty assembles vignettes, from popular culture and literature, which form a contemporary litany that is glaringly real. By taking a critical look at her pain, Darsigny methodically dissects its manifestations until her last breath. Thirty flirts with anti-happiness rhetoric and is an invigorating tribute and addition to ‘Bad Girl’ literature. Using humor and self-mockery, Thirty speaks freely and vulnerably about mental illness and suicide. In the end, Thirty emerges as a text that confronts both the pressure to be “a good girl” and the pressure to be happy. “I wanted to buy into the promise of happiness, but I’m too poor…” It resists these tropes, but does it survive them?

Originally published in French by Éditions du remue-ménage,Thirty is now available in English for the first time.