At Night All Blood Is Black

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Anna Moschovakis gives us this English translation of David Diop’s French-language novel At Night All Blood Is Black. It’s a quick, striking, and viscerally narrated book.

The narrator of this tale is Alfa Ndiaye, a Senegalese soldier in the French army during World War I. He is haunted after the loss of his “more-than-brother” Mademba Diop who dies in his arms. Feeling he failed Mademba in his final moments, Alfa sinks into a mindset of violent vengeance against the enemy soldiers. It soon grows obsessive.

Here we read some eternal themes: the horrors of war, the bonds of brotherhood, the human thirst for revenge, the psychological descent into madness. These themes can be explored in depth at any point in human history at any location on the map. However, Diop has some profound originality to offer in this gruesome tale.

It’s gripping and compelling from page one. The events are grotesque in how they unravel and the first-person narration is so close to human experience. For me, it loses some power toward the end. It didn’t quite live up to how shockingly enthralling it was at the beginning. Still, it’s a really good book and brutally original.

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Author David Diop
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 160 pages
Publisher Picador Paper
Publish Date 17-Aug-2021
ISBN 9781250800206 Buy this Book
Issue December 2021
Category Modern Literature