The International Booker Prize has selected French-Senegalese author David Diop’s debut novel ‘At Night All Blood Is Black’ for its highly coveted shortlist.
David Diop has been named one of six select authors to have made it onto the 2021 International Booker Prize shortlist. Diop’s debut novel At Night All Blood is Black is the only African novel that features on the 2021list. The international award recognises the best fiction novels that have been translated from a foreign language to English.
At Night All Blood is Black was first published in 2018 and the English version in 2020. The novel was critically received across the world. The book is an homage to Senegalese soldiers who fought in the first World War shoulder to shoulder with their colonisers the British and the French.
The historically-influenced novel is written in the active voice of its protagonist Alfa Ndiyae, a young recruit from a village in Senegal. Diop attempts to make sense of the psychological tension faced by Alfa Ndiyae, who is caught up in the madness of a war that weaponised Black bodies for its own agendas. Ndiyae is subsequently driven to revenge on white soldiers after witnessing the terrible death of his best friend Mademba Diop and, so, heads into the enemy lines.
Diop was born in France, raised in Senegal from childhood and later returned to France to complete his studies. At Night All Blood is Black was translated from French to English by Anna Moschovakis. Other shortlisted authors were Argentinian writer Mariana Enríquez for her book The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, Benjamín Labatut, from Netherlands, for When We Cease to Understand the World. The Employees by Denmark’s Olga Ravn, Russian author Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory and The War of the Poor byÉric Vuillard from France also made the list.
Africa’s literature giant and highly favoured Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was snubbed. He made history by being the first person to make the long list as both author and translator for his novel The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi.
The winners of the International Booker Prize stand to be awarded 50 000 pounds. The winners will be announced on June 2, 2021.