David Diop, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, and Louis-Philippe Dalembert are on the first selection for the Prix Goncourt 2021 announced on September 7, 2021,

The Prix Goncourt is a prize in French literature, given by the French Académie Goncourt to the author of “the best and most imaginative prose work of the year”. Moroccan-born Leila Slimani won the prize in 2016 and Djaïli Amadou Amal made the shortlist in 2020.

The Goncourt Academy, chaired by Didier Decoin, is made up of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Pascal Bruckner, Paule Constant, Patrick Rambaud, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Camille Laurens, Françoise Chandernagor, Philippe Claudel and Pierre Assouline.

They announced the first selection for the prize and those in the running are;

The writers of African descent on that list are;

  • Louis-Philippe Dalembert, Milwaukee Blues, Sabine Wespieser
  • David Diop, La porte du voyage sans retour, Seuil
  • Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, La plus secrète mémoire des hommes, Philippe Rey

Here is more information about those in the running;

Louis-Philippe Dalembert

Louis-Philippe Dalembert. Photo/Olivier Dion
Louis-Philippe Dalembert. Photo/Olivier Dion

Louis-Philippe Dalembert is among the most important Haitian writers of his generation. He is a poet, novelist, short story writer, and essayist who writes in both French and Haitian Creole. His work, praised by critics in France and abroad, has also been translated into several languages. He is a former fellow at the Villa Medici in Rome (1994–1995) and a Knight of Art and Writing in France and has been a guest at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm of the DAAD. He has won several prizes, such as the Prix RFO du Livre, the Premio Casa de las Américas, and the Prix Thyde Monnier de la SGDL. Avant que les ombres s’effacent (2017), one of his most recent works, has been awarded the Prix Orange du Livre and the Prix France Bleu/Page des libraires.

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar, Senegal where he studied literature and philosophy at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Brotherhood, his first novel, won the Grand Prix du Roman Métis, the Prix Ahmadou Kourouma, and the French Voices Grand Prize, in Alexia Trigo’s translation. He was named Chevalier of the National Order of Merit by the president of Senegal.

David Diop

David Diop
David Diop

David Diop is a French novelist and academic, who specializes in 18th-century French and Francophone African literature. His research, at the University of Pau in south-west France, focuses on representations of Africa in 18th-century accounts and images by travellers.

Diop received the 2021 International Booker Prize for his novel At Night All Blood Is Black as the first French author (translated by Anna Moschovakis). The novel was also shortlisted for ten French awards and won them in other countries. He also won the Prix Ahmadou Kourouma 2019 for his book Frere D’ame (Brother of Soul).

The next two selections for the 2020 Goncourt Prize will take place on October 5 and 26 before the winner is unveiled on November 3.