New Book: Christiane Taubira’s “Nuit d’épine”


Nuit d’épine (2019) is Christiane Taubira’s latest book—a memoir. Since épine may mean thorn or spine, one can imagine the multifarious emotions, events, and thoughts revealed in this new book. Born in Cayenne, French Guiana, Taubira served as member of the National Assembly of France and then Minister of Justice of France, during François Hollande’s presidency. She served as Minister of Justice from 2012 to 2016, when she resigned from office due to Hollande’s proposal to strip French nationality from dual-citizens convicted of terrorism, and all the repercussions this would bring.

Description: Night—everyone sees it, lives it, smells it, tames it in his/her own way. The night of French Guiana, pierced by a dim lamppost under the glow of which, as a child, choosing the dampness and silence, she [Christiane Taubira] chose to read in secret. Also allowing her to settle her accounts with the deadly sins that the nuns made her recite during the day, the night was often, for Christiane Taubira, an accomplice, an ally, a kind of intimate sister, a particular moment.

It is the night of the songs that we worship and devour, the night of sleep that refuses to announce the death of a mother, the night of passionate studies and burning eyes scrutinizing sacred authors, the night that opens onto the morning of the grumbling subways and racist travelers. It is also the night of militancy, of a French Guiana that revolts, of furious battles in the Assembly about marriage for all—a catheter on the arm and courage en bandouilière [strapped across the chest]. It is finally the night of a tragic Friday the 13th, soon followed by the night where she decides to bid farewell.

These nights of hopes, of questions, of anxieties sometimes, and of angry moments also constitute a novel of truth. A literary account in which the author shows that life is often stronger, more inventive, poetic, haunting, harsh, and terrible than many fictions.

Translated from the French by Ivette Romero. See original description at and


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