David Diop’s “Soul Brother” wins the International Booker Prize

The French novel Frère d’âme won the international version of the prestigious British literary Booker Prize, which rewards both its author David Diop and its British translator Anna Moschovakis.

David Diop, 55, thus became the first French author to win this prize awarded to foreign books translated and published during the year in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

“I am extremely happy to have won, it shows that literature has no borders,” the novelist told AFP, deeming “magnificent” that his translation allowed “the emotional charge that touched French readers ”to be“ extended into the English-speaking world ”.

The translator Anna Moschovakis, also a recognized poet, shares with Mr. Diop the 50,000 books (58,000 euros) coming with this prize, one of the few to recognize the major role of translators.

This second novel by David Diop, who was raised in Senegal and whose great-grandfather fought during the Great War, can be read as a tribute to the fighters of this conflict, and in particular to the 200,000 Africans who fought in the French army.

The narrator, Alfa Ndiaye, is a Senegalese tirailleur. During an assault, his companion in arms and childhood friend is seriously injured. He begs his friend to finish him off, but he cannot bring himself to do so. The book tells of Alfa Ndiaye’s attempt to redeem his companion, who died in terrible suffering.

“Incantatory prose”

Despite the “specificity of the context”, which speaks more to French-speaking readers, the “questions of domination based on race and colonial violence, which exist everywhere in the world”, spoke to the English-speaking jury, judge Ms. Moschovakis.

“This story of war, love and madness has a terrifying power,” she said in a statement the president of the jury, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, saying that the “incantatory prose and the dark but brilliant vision” of the novel had “Cast a spell” on all the members of the jury, “blown away”.

Faced with the impossibility of translating the play on words into the French title, Anna Moschovakis titled the English version At Night, All Blood Is Black.

This sentence taken from one of the first chapters of the novel had already been mentioned as a potential title “with my editor in France” (Le Seuil), before its publication in 2018, said Mr. Diop.

The novelist finds it “quite interesting”, because “it reflects well the will of the novel to suggest that war and its violence affect everyone and that, when the blood flows, it has the same color no matter what. human beings “.

Brother of Soul, already distinguished by the Goncourt Prize for high school students as well as the Swiss Ahmadou Korouma Prize, won the bet against five other finalists: the Argentine Mariana Enriquez, the Chilean Benjamin Labatut, the Danish Olga Ravn, the Russian Maria Stepanova and Frenchman Éric Vuillard.

A total of 125 books were competing for the International Booker Prize this year.

Source: AFP

The French novel Frère d’âme won the international version of the prestigious British literary prize Booker Prize, which rewards both its author David Diop and his British translator Anna Moschovakis. David Diop, 55, has thus become the first French author to win this award for foreign books translated and published in the year in the UK …

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David Diop’s “Soul Brother” wins the International Booker Prize

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