A gripping literary mystery in the vein of Bolaño’s Savage Detectives, this coming-of-age novel unravels the fascinating life of a maligned Black author, based on Yambo Ouologuem.
The first Sub-Saharan African winner of France’s top literary prize, the Goncourt.
In 2018, Diégane Latyr Faye, a young Senegalese writer in Paris, discovers a legendary book from the 1930s, The Labyrinth of Inhumanity. No one knows what became of its author, once hailed as the “Black Rimbaud,” after the book caused a scandal. Enthralled by this mystery, Diégane decides to search for T.C. Elimane, going down a path that will force him to confront the great tragedies of history, from colonialism to the Holocaust.
Alongside his investigation, Diégane becomes part of a group of young African writers in Paris. Together they talk, drink, make love, philosophize about the role of exile in artistic creation. Diégane grows particularly close to two women: the seductive Siga, who holds so many secrets, and the photojournalist Aïda, impossible to pin down.
The Most Secret Memory of Men is an astonishing novel about the choice between living and writing, and the desire to transcend the divide between Africa and the West. Above all, it is an ode to literature and its timelessness.
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar in 1990. He studied literature and philosophy at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Brotherhood, his first novel, won the Grand Prix du Roman Métis, the Prix Ahmadou Kourouma, and the French Voices Grand Prize. The president of Senegal named him a Chevalier of the National Order of Merit. He won the 2021 Goncourt Prize for his novel The Most Secret Memory of Men, becoming the first sub-Saharan African to do so.
Lara Vergnaud is a translator of prose, creative nonfiction, and scholarly works from the French. She is the recipient of two PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants and a French Voices Grand Prize, and has been nominated for the National Translation Award. She lives in Washington, DC.
- Publisher: Other Press (September 26, 2023)
- Language: English
- Paperback: 496 pages
- ISBN-10: 1635423279
- ISBN-13: 9781635423273
- Item Weight: 1.25 pounds