The writer David Diop signs a bewitching novel on the journey of the young scholar Michel Adanson, lost in Senegal at the end of the 18th century.

David Diop

International Booker Prize 2021

Winner of the International Booker Prize 2021 for Soul Brothers (Seuil), David Diop captures the life of French botanist Michel Adanson in his third novel, La porte du voyage sans retour. The story takes place in August 1806. Michel Adanson is dying. He dies, with the regret of leaving his great work fallow. His universal Orb, voluminous encyclopedia, was to gather all the efforts of his existence. Without telling her, he bequeaths to his daughter, Aglaé, a precious travel diary, well hidden in the family castle of Balaine, in the heart of Bourbonnais. She flushes it out, by chance, in the drawer of a writing desk.

A philosophical fable

Brought back from a distant trip to Senegal, this handwritten grimoire dates back to his youth. His reading reveals the true face of this scholar, who once fell in love with a country, a language, Wolof, and with Maram, an African woman who had managed to escape when she was reduced to slavery. Inspired by the real travel diaries of Michel Adanson (1727-1806), a long detailed account of his wonders and his failures, David Diop draws a magnificent novel of love, initiation and transmission. Book of adventures and philosophical fable, with luxuriant descriptions, impregnated with smells and flavors. Subtle praise of the richness of 18th century French which shapes its style, and of Wolof whose evocative power irrigates a flamboyant imagination.

In the reading list of Barack Obama

Born in 1966 in Paris, David Diop grew up in Senegal and studied in France. He is the author of 1889, Universal Attraction (L’Harmattan, 2012) and Rhétorique nègre au XVIIIe siècle (Classiques Garnier, 2018), on the representation of the African and African speech in 18th century literature. century. At 55, he became the first French-speaking winner to win the Booker Prize for his novel Frère d’âme (Seuil). Published in 2018, the book that looks back on the history of Senegalese skirmishers. David Diop had also experienced international recognition by winning the prize for fiction of the year from a prestigious American newspaper, the Los Angeles Times last April. And supreme consecration, former US President Barack Obama added it to his list of books to read last summer !

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