David Diop (novelist)

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David Diop
Diop in 2018
Diop in 2018
Born (1966-02-24) February 24, 1966 (age 56)
Paris, France
Alma materParis-Sorbonne University
Notable works
Notable awards

David Diop (born February 24, 1966) is a French novelist and academic, who specializes in 18th-century French and Francophone African literature. His research, at the University of Pau in south-west France, focuses on representations of Africa in 18th-century accounts and images by travellers.[1] Diop received the 2021 International Booker Prize for his novel At Night All Blood Is Black as the first French author (translated by Anna Moschovakis). The novel was also shortlisted for ten French awards and won them in other countries.


David Diop was born in Paris in 1966 to a French mother and a Senegalese father.[2][3] He moved to Dakar at the age of five and spent the majority of his childhood in Senegal before returning to study in France at the age of 18 after finishing high school.[4][5] Diop received a doctorate from the Sorbonne for his studies on 18th-century French literature.[6]

In 1998, he became a lecturer in literature at the University of Pau and the Adour Region specialising in 18th-century French literature and in African French literature.[6][7] In 2009 he was appointed to head a research group on the representation of Africa and Africans in 17th- and 18th-century European literature. He received his habilitation in 2014.[6] Diop now heads the arts, languages, and literature department at the university.[8] He lives in Pau.[6]

Early works[edit]

He published his first book, a work of historical fiction titled 1889, l'Attraction universelle, in 2012. The novel describes the experiences of 11 members of a Senegalese delegation to the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris.[6]

In 2018, he published his first full-length scholarly work, Rhétorique nègre au xviiie siècle, which deals with the representation of Africans in 18th-century travel writing and abolitionist texts.[7]

At Night All Blood Is Black / Frère d'âme[edit]

Diop's second novel, Frère d'âme, which interweaves the history of World War I with the history of colonialism, was published in 2018.[9] The novel describes the experiences of Senegalese Tirailleurs fighting for France in the trenches. The main character, Alfa Ndiaye, descends into madness following the death of a childhood friend and inflicts extreme brutality upon his German enemies. Diop was inspired to write the book by his French great-grandfather's service during the war. Diop stated "He never said anything to his wife, or to my mother, about his experience. That is why I was always very interested by all the tales and accounts which gave one access to a form of intimacy with that particular war."[10] Because his great-grandfather refused to speak about the war Diop read many published accounts regarding the Tirailleurs' service.[3]

Frère d'âme was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt, the Prix Renaudot, the Prix Médicis and the Prix Femina and six other French literary prizes.[6][11] In 2018 Diop received the Students' Prix Goncourt for the novel.[9][12] He also won the Swiss Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma.[11]

Frère d'âme was published in English translation in November 2020 under the title At Night All Blood Is Black.[13][8] It won the 2020 Los Angeles Times Fiction Book Prize.[14] Together with his translator Anna Moschovakis, with whom he split the £50,000 winnings, he won ⁦the 2021 International Booker Prize.[15] This made him the first French author and first person of an African heritage to win the prize.[3][16]

The novel is being translated into 13 languages. The Italian translation has won the Strega European Prize, and the Dutch translation has won the Europese Literatuurprijs [nl].[11][3]


  1. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (18 June 2021). "International Booker winner David Diop: 'It's war that's savage, not the soldiers'". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Branach-Kallas, Anna (26 February 2021). "Tirailleurs Sénégalais, Savagery, and War Trauma in At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop". Journal of War & Culture Studies: 1. doi:10.1080/17526272.2021.1891674. ISSN 1752-6272. S2CID 233947389.
  3. ^ a b c d Cain, Sian (2 June 2021). "David Diop wins International Booker for 'frightening' At Night All Blood Is Black". The Guardian. Guardian News Media. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  4. ^ Cappelle, Laura (30 May 2021). "He Is Senegalese and French, With Nothing to Reconcile". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  5. ^ "David Diop". frenchculture.org. French Embassy in the United States. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "David Diop". Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  7. ^ a b Contreras, Isabel (15 November 2018). "Le Goncourt des lycéens 2018 pour David Diop". Livres Hebdo (in French). Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  8. ^ a b Toll, Martha Anne (November 2020). "A Bereaved Soldier Looks for Revenge in David Diop's Disturbing 'At Night All Blood is Black'". Words Without Borders. Archived from the original on 13 November 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b Kaprièlian, Nelly (30 October 2018). "Rencontre avec la grande révélation de la rentrée littéraire, David Diop". Les Inrockuptibles (in French). Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  10. ^ "International Booker Prize: David Diop becomes first French winner". BBC News. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  11. ^ a b c "The 2021 International Booker Prize winner announcement". The Booker Prizes. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Goncourt des lycéens : le Palois David Diop a été reçu à l'Élysée". La République des Pyrénées (in French). 15 November 2018. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  13. ^ "David Diop". Cultural Services French Embassy in the United States. 23 October 2020. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  14. ^ Pineda, Dorany (17 April 2021). "Winners of the 2020 L.A. Times Book Prizes announced". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  15. ^ "International Booker Prize: David Diop becomes first French winner". BBC News. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  16. ^ Ibeh, Chukwuebuka (9 June 2021). "David Diop is First French-African Winner of the International Booker Prize". Brittle Paper. Retrieved 17 July 2021.

External links[edit]