Books

David Diop and translator Anna Moschovakis win $86K International Booker Prize for At Night All Blood is Black

David Diop is the first French author to win the International Booker Prize.

David Diop is the first French author to win the International Booker Prize

David Diop (left) and translator Anna Moschovakis have won the 2021 International Booker Prize for At Night All Blood is Black. (International Booker Prize)

The 2021 International Booker Prize has been awarded to At Night All Blood is Black, written by David Diop and translated from French by Anna Moschovakis. 

The £50,000 ($86,990 Cdn) prize will be split between Diop and Moschovakis this year, to provide the author and translator with equal recognition.

The International Booker Prize is awarded annually for a single book that is translated into English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

At Night All Blood is Black portrays a young man's descent into madness and tells the underreported story of the Senegalese, who fought for France on the Western Front during the First World War. After his best friend is mortally wounded in combat, Alfa, the protagonist, is alone amidst the savagery of the trenches. He throws himself into fighting with renewed vigour, but soon begins to frighten even his own comrades. 

Born in 1966 in Paris, Diop is the first French author to win the International Booker Prize. He was raised in Senegal and now lives in France, where he is a professor of 18th-century literature at the University of Pau. 

At Night All Blood is Black is Diop's second novel. It was shortlisted for 10 major prizes in France. It is currently being translated into 13 languages.

Moschovakis is a poet, author and translator. Her works include the James Laughlin Award–winning poetry collection You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake

At Night All Blood is Black was chosen from a shortlist of six books by a panel of five judges, chaired by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, cultural historian and novelist.

"This story of warfare and love and madness has a terrifying power. The protagonist is accused of sorcery, and there is something uncanny about the way the narrative works on the reader...it had cast a spell on us," said Hughes-Hallett in a statement.

The rest of the jury was comprised of Ethiopian Canadian writer and journalist Aida Edemariam, British professor and historian Olivette Otele, Indian British writer Neel Mukherjee and Hungarian British poet and translator George Szirtes.

The winner was announced during a virtual celebration from Coventry Cathedral in England.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now