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4.5 

Beyond the Door of No Return

By David Diop & Sam Taylor
Beyond the Door of No Return by David Diop & Sam Taylor digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

A Finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Translated Literature

One of The Atlantic’s 10 Best Books of 2023

A Financial Times Best Book of 2023 | Named a best book of the year by Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews

“A hypnotic, powerful historical novel in which stories nest within one another like dolls . . . It all coheres mesmerizingly.” —Clémence Michallon, The New York Times Book Review

“Stunningly realized . . . Exquisite . . . A spellbinding novel.” —Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

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The key to this mysterious woman’s identity is Adanson’s unpublished memoir of the years he spent in Senegal, concealed in a secret compartment in a chest of drawers.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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2 Reviews

4.5
Loudly Crying Face“This is a great history (fiction) on slavery. The main part of the story takes place in Africa (Senegal in West Africa) and the main character is a young woman. It explained how people were caught and sold as slaves to be transported to America. The story starts in France. I loved reading this book albeit the story is sad but, it is a great book.”
Diverse characters

About David Diop

David Diop is the author of At Night All Blood Is Black, which was awarded the International Booker Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. Born in Paris and raised in Senegal, he is a professor of literature at the University of Pau, where his research encompasses topics including eighteenth-century French literature and European representations of Africa in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Sam Taylor is an award-winning literary translator and novelist. He has translated more than sixty books from the French, including Laurent Binet’s HHhH and Leïla Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny.

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