From award-winning Tahitian author Titaua Peu comes Pina, a novel about a family torn apart by secrets and the legacy of colonialism, held together by nine-year-old Pina, a girl shouldering the weight of her family’s traumas.
Postcolonial family novels are a major mode of modern and contemporary fiction, ranging from Gabriel García Márquez's magical-realist classic One Hundred Years of Solitude to J. M. Coetzee's quiet, barbed Disgrace...Titaua Peu's Pina belongs to this tradition,but, crucially, it takes place not in a former colony but on Tahiti, in French Polynesia, where independence is an ongoing effort and debate...Peu evokes Tahiti with rough, unsentimental grace; Jeffrey Zuckerman, who has translated writing by French speakers from across the globe, translates chatty prose with force and fluidity...Pina itself is a fluid, sprawling novel, telling the freewheeling story of a Tahitian family whose 'fates go any which way, barely any detail in common'...Peu writes brutal scenes with wrenching immediacy, though she never lets the reader forget that the truest sources of violence in Pina are colonization and poverty...Ultimately, she maintains a tighter grasp on this idea than the plot, which moves so far and fast that it can be difficult to remain invested in the novel's events...Still, investing in its characters, Pina especially, is impossible to avoid.
Members of a Tahitian family cannot escape one another in Titaua Peu’s novel Pina...Nine-year-old Pina’s life, already darkened by abuse and poverty, becomes even harsher when an accident turns her drunken father Auguste into a dangerous religious zealot...Pina, her mother, and her siblings seek refuge wherever they can: with loved ones, with lovers, and with drugs...But as Auguste’s behavior grows more unhinged, it becomes clear that only a drastic, tragic action can break the cycle of violence...Colonialism and its trappings—including colorism, lacks of opportunity, and oppression—play roles in creating and exacerbating the addiction, violence, and mental illness that plagues the family...Pina is a dark family saga about the effects of colonialism on one family and the nation they live in.
In Tahiti, Tenaho is one of those 'quartiers nobody ever hears about,' but what happened to that family 'with too many kids . . . was beyond all expectation'...Decades ago, Auguste and Ma married in love...Nine children later, screaming, slapping, and beating are commonplace...Alcohol fuels Auguste’s vilest offenses, rendering him comatose following a car accident...In his absence, 16-year-old Pauro falls in love, 15-year-old Rosa indiscriminately chases sex, nine-year-old Pina watches all—including their youngest Moïra...The relentless violence here perhaps warrants a warning, but the worst horrors, award-winning author Peu exposes in her English debut, belong to colonialism...That Peu, who is Mā’ohi (indigenous Tahitian), writes in French, the language of the island’s white conquerors, already manifests that occupation...A multilayered accomplishment of careful understanding and empathic respect...Bearing witness seems a minimal obligation for global readers.