Boubacar Boris Diop
Boubacar Boris Diop is an award-winning author and one of today’s most prominent African novelists, short fiction writers, playwrights, and essayists. Diop was the former editor-in-chief for Le Matin, an independent daily Senegalese newspaper, and after having collaborated for years with the Zurich-based daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the Italian weekly Internazionale, he is currently columnist at the London magazine The New African and the Senegalese Seneplus. Diop has been a visiting professor at the American University of Nigeria, Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis, the ETH University Zurich, and Rutgers University, where he has held seminars about Senegalese literature in Wolof, novel-writing and remembrance, translating between languages, and Afropessimism. He has been a guest speaker at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Brown, Macalester, Brandeis, and a recipient of the Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program Award at Dickinson College in 2018.
His most recent work, Bàmmeelu Kocc Barma (2017) written in Wolof, was published by Ejo Editions. After Kaveena (2016) and The Knight and His Shadow (2015) translated from French, Michigan University Press released Doomi Golo, the Hidden Notebooks, the English version of his Wolof novel. His most celebrated novel Murambi, the Book of Bones (2006), originally published in French in 2000, is a fictional story inspired by Diop’s stay in Kigali, Rwanda, in 1998. In the years following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, he and eight other Francophone African authors were invited by the literary festival “Fest’Africa” to take up residence at a writer’s house in Kigali to participate in the Duty of Memory Project. Deeply influenced by what he had learned of the genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda, Diop’s novel blended the voices of genocide victims with those of the perpetrators. Murambi, The Book of Bones has since been listed by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair’s Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century and has been nominated for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Diop has won several awards for his extensive works in French, including the Senegalese Republic Grand Prize in 1990 for Les Tambours de la mémoire, the Prix Tropiques for Le Cavalier et son ombre in 1997. Beyond his writing in French, however, Diop is also passionate about promoting literatures in Wolof. Now available in English and in Spanish, Doomi Golo, was originally published in Wolof in Dakar in 2003 and translated six years later by himself into French. It has been republished in 2019 by Ejo Editions.
Boubacar Boris Diop has created, at the Editions Zulma in Paris, Céytu, a literary collection named after Cheikh Anta Diop’s birthplace. In collaboration with Laure Leroy, the Director of Éditions Zulma, and Rodney Saint-Eloi, the Director of Mémoire d’Encrier in Montreal, Céytu aims to publish literary masterpieces from all languages and all cultures into Wolof with the first series of translated works by authors such as Mariama Bâ, Aimé Césaire, JMG Le Clézio, and released in March 2016. He has himself translated into Wolof Aimé Césaire’s A Season in the Congo.
In 2016 Boubacar Boris Diop founded Ejo Editions, a publishing house specialized in literature written in Senegalese national languages. Since 2016, Ejo Editions has published novels, poetry and historical essays representing a turning point in the rise of a Senegalese national literature in African languages. As part of this historical event, Diop and Ejo Editions founded Lu defu waxu, the first and only online weekly newspaper in Wolof. Additionally, with a group of scholars, educators and cultural activists, Diop developed an online language school offering courses in Wolof to professors and students from the Cheikh Anta Diop Foundation, the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire, the School of Librarians, Archivistes, and Documentalists, as well as journalists.
Diop is currently working on his third novel in Wolof.
- 2022 Finalist for Neustadt International Prize for Literature for Murambi: The Book of Bones
- The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program Award in 2018
- Africa’s 100 Best Books of the Twentieth Century for Murambi The Book of Bones
- Prix Tropiques for Le Cavalier et son ombre in 1997
- Senegalese Republic Grand Prize in 1990 for Les Tambours de la mémoire