David Diop became the first French writer to win the coveted International Booker honor, the judges had announced Wednesday.
His second novel, titled At Night All Blood is Black, was inspired by the silence of his Senegalese ancestor about his experiences in the First World War.
£50,000 Cash Prize
The £ 50,000 prize will be shared between Diop and the book’s translator – American author and poet Anna Moschovakis.
It fended off competition from five other shortlisted titles, including Éric Vuillard’s The War of the Poor.
What Is The International Booker Prize?
The International Booker Prize is awarded annually for one book translated into English and has been published in the UK or Ireland.
This year’s winning entry, by a French-Senegalese author, reveals the decline of a young man, and tells the story of the Senegalese people who fought for France during the conflict.
“More than a century after the First World War, a new African writer poses these questions in a unique but unusual novel about this human history’s blood filled stain,” The New York Times said in a report.
About The Novel
The Star Tribune stated: “Although it is short, it is a matter of study, of the horrors of war in the trenches, of untimely deaths, and of irreparable damage to the human soul.”
Speaking to the BBC recently, Diop said of his grandfather: “He never said anything to his wife, or mother, about his experience. That’s why I’ve always been interested in all the myths and accounts that give a person access to a way close to that war.”
The novel was declared the winner by Judge Chairwoman Lucy Hughes-Hallett, during the Coventry Cathedral celebrations on Wednesday afternoon.
“This story of wars and love and madness has tremendous power,” Hughes-Hallet said. “The protagonist is accused of witchcraft, and there is some unique feeling in the way the story works for the reader.
“We the judges have agreed that its incantatory prose and dark, brilliant vision had jangled our emotions and blown our minds. That it had cast a spell on us.”
Other Awards David Has Won
– Winner: At Night All Blood is Black – David Diop
■ The War of the Poor – Éric Vuillard
■ The Dangers of Smoking in Bed – Mariana Enríquez
■ In Memory of Memory – Maria Stepanova
■ When We Cease to Understand the World – Benjamín Labatut
■ The Employees – Olga Ravn