Book Of The Week, 24th May 2021

David Diop: At night all blood is black. Paperback, £8.99.

Pushkin Press, 2020.

Nominated for the international Booker Prize 2021

The novel captures a part of our history we do not read often about: the story of the Senegalese who fought for France on the Western Front during the First World War.

In it’s Centre is the tragedy of a young man’s mind. We read about his thought and feelings, his fight against the madness he feels is taking hold of him. Alfa Ndiaye’s journey through his life and war is intense, and connected to his best friend, „his more-than-brother“, Mademba, who makes everything kind of bearable. But one day he is mortally wounded, and without him Alfa is alone amidst the savagery of the trenches. He feels lost, far from home, from all he knows. His way out of the sadness and fear is to commit to this war with an intensity that soon begins to scare even his own comrades in arms.

Diop presents a world in which we can’t make out the line between courage and madness, murder and warfare. Alfa’s final transformation he is going through to deal with his lost and war experiences is unexpected and poetic, at times heart-breaking. A chilling hypnotic read.

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