French writer David Diop won the International Booker Prize 2021 for his novel ‘At Night All Blood is Black’ and created history by becoming the first French writer to win the prestigious award. His book “Frere d’ame” (literally meaning soul brother) in French was first published in 2018 and it is translated into English by Anna Moschovakis.
‘At Night All Blood is Black’ is a heartbreaking yet poetic story of friendship and the terrors of war. The story is set during World War 1, and it follows two Senegalese soldiers Alfa and Mademba who are fighting for France against German enemies. But when Mademba dies on the battlefield, Alfa finds himself all alone in the conflict and descends more into the violence and madness of the war. The story is narrated by Alfa and gives an insight of the horrors of war.
Diop was born in France and brought up in Senegal. The author was inspired by his own great-grandfather, who fought in the war but never spoke about it, to write this story. ‘At Night All Blood is Black’ explores the shocking and dehumanising consequences of colonialism, violence and war and how it changes us forever. The book can be read in one sitting but the story will stay with you long after you have read it.
How critics view the book:
Kirkus Review writes, “A searing, eye-opening tale of innocence destroyed.”
Publishers Weekly writes, “‘Diop is sure to earn readers with this feverish exercise in psychological horror.”
Chigozie Obioma writes for the New York Times, “More than a century after World War I, a great new African writer is asking these questions in a spare yet extraordinary novel about this bloody stain on human history”.