The International Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious literary awards, with a mission to highlight great works of fiction from around the globe. It gives recognition to talented authors who enrich the literary world with their stories, as well as their translators who work hard to make these stories accessible to the English-speaking world.
Previous recipients of this coveted award are Han Kang for her haunting novel, The Vegetarian (translated from South Korean by Deborah Smith) as well as Jokha Alharthi for her novel that follows the story of three sisters navigating love and loss in the rapidly changing political and cultural landscape of Oman, Celestial Bodies (translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth).
In June 2021, the International Booker Prize was awarded to French-Senegalese writer David Diop for his second novel, At Night All Blood Is Black, translated from French by Anna Moschovakis. He is the first French author to win the prize.
At Night All Blood is Black, published by Pushkin Press, sheds light on the forgotten history of World War I, where western powers brought men from their colonies in Africa and Asia to fight in the war. This novel follows the story of Senagelese tirailleur Alfa Ndiaye and his descent into madness after abandoning his friend and fellow comrade, Mademba Diop, mortally wounded and begging for death on No Man's Land.
The author's portrayal of Ndiaye's rage-fuelled mission to avenge his friend is visceral, harrowing and powerful, laying bare the horrors and cruelty of the great war from a more nuanced perspective that explores the often-neglected themes of race, exploitation and colonialism.
At Night All Blood is Black was selected by a panel of esteemed judges—including vice president of Royal Historical Society, Olivette Otele; poet George Szirtes; and authors Lucy Hughes-Hallett and Neel Mukherjee—from a shortlist of six books.
Take a look at the contenders, which also deserve spots on your reading list: