The 2021 International Booker Prize has been awarded to French-Senegalese author David Diop for his second novel At Night All Blood is Black. It is the first time a French writer and a writer of Francophone African descent is achieving this honor. (Read an excerpt of the book here.) The translator of the book is Anna Moschovakis, who will be splitting the 50,000-pound cash award with Diop.
Diop is a French novelist and academic. He studies 18th century French and francophone African literature. His mother is French while his father is Senegalese. Diop lived most of his childhood in Senegal and moved to France for higher education. He currently teaches and does research at University of Pau and the Adour Region.
The International Booker Prize is annually awarded to any novel translated into English from a foreign language and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. Diop emerged winner from a shortlist that included The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut, and The Employees by Olga Ravn.
Described as wielding “terrifying power,” Diop’s novel follows the lives of Senegalese soldiers who fought for France during World War I. Diop told the BBC that the novel was “inspired by his Senegalese great-grandfather’s silence about his experiences in World War One.” A Brittle Paper Notable Book of 2020, it has received favorable reviews from The New York Times, Star Tribune and BBC.
The judging panel, which was chaired by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, said of the novel that it “cast a spell on us.”
Congratulations to David Diop and Anna Moschovakis!
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article wrongly asserted that David Diop is the first African winner of the International Booker Prize. It’s been confirmed, however, that the 2007 prize was awarded to Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe. The article, including its title, has been modified to that effect.