On October 26, 2022, the announcement was made by World Literature Today, the magazine of the University of Oklahoma, the Senegalese writer, Boris Diop receives the Neustadt prize for his novel: “Murambi, le livre des ossements”, reprinted by Flore Zoa.
It is the season of Awards, especially literary awards (Renaudot, Femina, Medici,…). Oklahoma crowns a glory of Senegalese literature: Boubacar Boris Diop. He is the 27th person and the first African to receive this award. So what is the Neustadt Award? – The reunion of two things that don’t usually come together: a lot of money and a lot of honour.” The $50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature is accompanied by a silver medal and a certificate.
Awarded every two years since 2003, the Neustadt Prize is one of the few prizes to be awarded to poets, novelists, screenwriters and playwrights. Almost all actors are also eligible. This prize is awarded to a living writer in recognition of an important work. The last winner of the 2020 Neustadt Prize was Albanian author Ismail. On the other hand Boubacar Boris Diop is part of the first sub-Saharan writer to win the 2022 Neustadt International Literature Prize. An award that is equivalent to the Nobel Prize for Literature.
According to Robert Con Davis-Undiano, Executive Director of World Literature Today, Boubacar Boris Diop deserves this distinction for his career and his writings: It is a great honour for an experienced African writer of the stature of Boubacar Boris Diop to win the Neustadt Prize. It is a landmark for the award and for Mr. Diop’s growing and well-deserved reputation in the West.” Boubacar Boris Diop has already won literary prizes (Grand Prix littéraire d’Afrique noire, 2000; Prix Goncourt des lycéens, 2018 and Booker Prize International, 2021) and has just won an umpteenth.
The Senegalese writer began as a journalist, writer, screenwriter, to finish – if he has not yet completed his metamorphosis – translator in the Wolof language. He is a bloated man of paradox. A first. Zulma, Paris and Mémoire d’encrier, Montreal. Two French-language Western publishing houses create a collection (Céytu) dedicated to African languages and appoint him as director. I do a tour, curiosity obliged, on the site of the Céytu. Second paradox. The site exists only in French and English. Not in Wolof. Third paradox. The writer lives in Pau. We would not have preferred Dakar.
The Senegalese writer, beyond his great career, was chosen for his work on Rwanda. Murambi, the book of bones (Editions Zulma), is one of the first literary works on the bloodiest genocide of the late 20th century. In a masterly way, the writer recounts the madness, horror, drama and fragility of societies through the personal stories of two childhood friends, Jessica and Cornelius.”.