“At Night All Blood Is Black”

It is easy to see why David Diop’s relentlessly dark “At Night All Blood Is Black” won the 2021 International Booker Prize. The novel is suitably dark and brooding, an examination of one man’s decline into madness as he and his French compatriots fight in the trenches of World War One.

Alfa’s Senegalese roots permeates the book not only in terms of some of the background plot, but in the language used, its repetition and style. Which is why (my one complaint) the compound word “one-nighter” screams out at one point as entirely inappropriate – though there is no way of knowing whether this is in the French original or my English translation. Either way, something that should have been picked up by Pushkin Press.

Having said that – and it is a minor point of course – “At Night All Blood Is Black” is certainly worth reading; a really powerful take on the effects of the brutalities of war.