Beyond the Door of No Return by David Diop
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2023 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR TRANSLATED FICTION
The thrilling and deeply moving new novel by David Diop, winner of the International Booker Prize.
Paris, 1806. The renowned botanist Michel Adanson lies on his deathbed, the masterwork to which he dedicated his life still incomplete. As he expires, the last word to escape his lips is a woman's name: Maram.
The key to this mysterious woman's identity is Adanson's unpublished memoir of the years he spent in Senegal, concealed in a secret compartment in a chest of drawers. Therein lies a story as fantastical as it is tragic: Maram, it turns out, is none other than the fabled revenant. A young woman of noble birth from the kingdom of Waalo, Maram was sold into slavery but managed to escape from the Island of Gorée--a major embarkation point of the transatlantic slave trade--to a small village hidden in the forest. While on a research expedition in West Africa as a young man, Adanson hears the story of the revenant and becomes obsessed with finding her. Accompanied by his guide, he ventures deep into the Senegalese bush on a journey that reveals not only the savagery of the French colonial occupation but also the unlikely transports of the human heart.
Written with sensitivity and narrative flair, David Diop's Beyond the Door of No Return is a love story like few others. Drawing on the richness and lyricism of Senegal's oral traditions, Diop has constructed a historical epic of the highest order.
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