David Diop, a French author who spent his life between Senegal and France, has won the 2021 International Booker Prize for his second novel, At Night All Blood Is Black, alongside his translator, Anna Moscovakis. He is the first French author to ever win this award.
The book, written in 2018, received many accolades, including the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens and the Swiss Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma. In 2020 the book was translated into English by Moscovakis, making it eligible for the International Booker Prize.
The story follows Alfa Ndiaye, a Senegalese man, as he fights with the French army during World War I. When Alfa’s friend is severely injured in battle, Alfa must choose whether or not to spare his friend the agony of dying a slow death. The decision becomes maddening, and when Alfa’s friend eventually does pass, things get even worse for Alfa. In an attempt to avenge his friend’s death, our protagonist takes it upon himself to sneak past enemy lines and “murder a blue-eyed German soldier” each night. But instead of becoming a hero of the war, Alfa is painted out to be a sorcerer whose demons have gotten the best of him.
The Booker Prize and all of its affiliate awards are some of the most coveted awards in writing. Winning authors are awarded not only with international recognition but press that encourages readers all over the globe to read the winning novel. Past winners include Margaret Atwood, Bernadine Evaristo, and Douglas Stuart.