Fatou Diome

(Updated on 11/02/2012)

Fatou Diome was born on Niodior, an island off the coast of Senegal in 1968. In 1990 she met a Frenchman working in Senegal and married him four years later, going back to France with him that same year, where she experienced racism even from her own parents in law. Following her divorce she embarked on a literature degree in Strasbourg, financed by cleaning jobs. Self-determination, exile and ostracism are the main themes in Diome’s work. Following a collection of short stories and a novella, she published her first novel, Le Ventre de l’Atlantique (Eng. The Belly of the Atlantic, 2006), in 2003. She achieved international recognition for the work, winning the Prix des Hémisphères Chantal Lapicque, the LiBeraturpreis and the young readers’ book prize of the Jury der jungen Leser. The fusion of a conversational tone and a characteristic, educative style, of suspense and poetry, colour and reflection also mark out Diome’s second novel, Kétala (2006). The work presents the eight days between the death of an emigrant returned from Europe and the traditional sharing out of her possessions. At this time everyday objects that have been left behind interact to tell the story of their former owner. Thus a kaleidoscopic image of a life emerges, caught between tradition and modernity, rebellion and degradation, Africa and Europe. Fatou Diome teaches Literature at the University of Strasbourg where she is also working towards a doctorate.