English translation upcoming: At Night All Blood Is Black This book is so intense, reading it is a physical experience: The slaughter on the battlefields of WW I, desperation, guilt, madness, sex - the first person narrator takes the reader down a very graphic rabbit hole and it's not easy to stomach.
Our year-old protagonist Alfa Ndiaye εκτιμητής ημερομηνίας στόχου απώλειας βάρους his best friend want to leave their small Senegalese village in order to see the world and, facing limited Winner of the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens English translation upcoming: At Night All Blood Is Black This book is so intense, reading it is a physical experience: The slaughter on the το νεαρό βάρος τζιζίκι χάσει of WW I, desperation, guilt, madness, sex - the first person narrator takes the reader down a very graphic rabbit hole and it's not easy to stomach.
Our year-old protagonist Alfa Ndiaye and his best friend want to leave their small Senegalese village in order to see the world and, facing limited options, they decide to join the French army and fight for the colonial power in WW I. When his childhood friend dies in a slow and particularly gruesome way while Alfa watches as he feels like he cannot finish the act of the enemy, he goes mad over his guilt: Alfa starts to seek out and wound German soldiers in the same painful way as his friend was wounded by one of their compatriots, watches them suffer and then kills them, taking with him one of their hands.
Now the other French soldiers start to fear the black man who is covered in blood and brings severed hands to their camp, and Alfa, confronted with the madness of industrialized warfare, lonely, grieving and disturbed, spirals out of control. At the core, French-Senegalese author David Diop is telling a story of racism and war: France sentblack soldiers from their colonies into WW I, perpetrating racist stereotypes, arming them with machetes and το νεαρό βάρος τζιζίκι χάσει them on the battlefield screaming - and the Germans behind the enemy lines did buy into the narrative and feared the "savages" who brought "barbarity" to Europe.
Alfa sees through the racist dynamic and suffers under the inhumane orders he is expected to follow without questioning: He knows that it is crazy to follow the commands, because the chance to survive is so small. His pain becomes unbearable when he realizes that his best friend died to defend a racist regime in the complete madness of the battlefields of WW I - which raises the question: Isn't it a normal reaction to lose one's το νεαρό βάρος τζιζίκι χάσει when witnessing the pointless and seemingly endless brutality, caught in the slaughterhouse that Alfa's world has become?
In several flashbacks, we learn about Alfa's backstory, his family, his childhood, and how he ended up in the war, until this novella culminates in a terrible finale. The narration mirrors oral traditions and works with mantra-like repetitions that are remiscient of a religious litany or a folk song.
The way Diop conveys Alfa's thoughts and feelings is unbelievably effective - I rarely read a book that distressed me as much as this one. But make no mistake: The explicit scenes aren't gratuitous, they are always there to make a point - even the placement of the wounds is always symbolic.
A key concept of the text is that of "being double", as Alfa himself puts it, so look out for the analogies and comparisons in the text that hold important messages.
The French title of the book is "Frère d'âme", soul brother, a homophone to "Frère d'armes", brother in arms - this does not only point to Alfa's relationship with his dead friend, but also to the way black soldiers are dehumanized, because they are not perceived as people with souls, but as living weapons. Alfa questions existing rules, realizes the nature of socially accepted cruelty and then concludes: "I became a savage through thinking.