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The Most Secret Memory of Men


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About The Book


A masterful coming-of-age novel and a gripping investigation into the life of a mysterious author who disappeared without a trace, by the first writer from sub-Saharan Africa to be awarded France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt.

Paris, 2018. Diégane Latyr Faye, a young Senegalese writer, discovers a legendary book published in 1938 titled The Maze of Inhumanity. No one knows what happened to the author, T.C. Elimane, once referred to as the “Black Rimbaud.” After he was accused of plagiarism, his reputation was destroyed by the critics. He subsequently disappeared without a trace.

Curiosity turns to obsession, and Faye embarks on a quest to uncover the fate of the mysterious T.C. Elimane. His search weaves past and present, countries and continents, following the author’s labyrinthine trail from Senegal to Argentina and France and confronting the great tragedies of history.

Alongside his investigation, Faye becomes part of a group of young African writers in Paris. They talk, drink, make love, and philosophize about the role of exile in artistic creation. He becomes particularly close to two women: the seductive Siga, keeper of secrets, and the fleeting photojournalist Aïda.

But throughout, a question persists: will he get to the truth at the center of the maze?

A gripping detective novel without a detective and a masterpiece of perpetual reinvention, The Most Secret Memory of Men confronts the impact of colonialism and neo-colonialism, the holocaust in Europe, dictatorships in South America and the Caribbean, genocide in Africa, and collaboration and resistance everywhere. Above all, it is a love song to literature and its timeless power.

About The Author

Photograph © DR

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1990. He studied literature and philosophy at L’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. The president of Senegal named him a Chevalier of the National Order of Merit. In 2021, he won the Prix Goncourt for The Most Secret Memory of Men, becoming the first author from sub-Saharan Africa to win the award and one of the youngest at only thirty-one years old. The novel was also longlisted for the National Book Awards in the category of Translated Literature.


Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 26, 2023)
  • Length: 496 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668005682

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Raves and Reviews

“Captivating, precise, sensual prose. A book that will stir your emotions and make you think. A love letter to literature, this novel is already a classic, and it will haunt you.”
LEÏLA SLIMANI, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Watch Us Dance and The Perfect Nanny

“More than an engrossing investigation into the mysterious author of a cursed book, Sarr’s magnificent novel also offers a profound reflection on the resonance of literature in our lives.”
DAVID DIOP, International Booker Prize–winning author of Beyond the Door of No Return and At Night All Blood Is Black

“[L]uminous, vertiginous, and cerebral . . . a political, funny, and sensual work of fiction that readers will devour like if it was a detective fiction with an esoteric flavour.”
BLAISE NDALA, award-winning author of In the Belly of the Congo

“A powerful book, crossed by an epic breath that celebrates the power of literature.”
ALAIN MABANCKOU, award-winning author of Black Moses

“Thanks to translator Lara Vergnaud, English-language readers can seamlessly experience Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s pyrotechnic prose. A labyrinth of a novel, The Most Secret Memory of Men is as enthralling as it is thought-provoking. Sarr is a writer that comes along once in a lifetime.”
ERIC NGUYEN, award-winning author of Things We Lost to the Water

“An ingeniously constructed, ferociously intelligent literary detective novel in the tradition of Roberto Bolaño and Jorge Luis Borges. . . . His comic, piercing, multi-faceted story politicizes the tendency of Europe’s literary establishment to tokenize and then erase marginalized authors. A brilliant, labyrinthine, highly entertaining page-turner, rightly cemented as a contemporary masterpiece by the Prix Goncourt.”
DIMITRI NASRALLAH, bestselling author of Hotline

“Sarr’s inventiveness, his audacity, and the power of his language make this book a declaration of love to literature.”

“Sarr, thirty-one, is the youngest winner of the Goncourt since 1976. He has become the first writer from sub-Saharan Africa to be awarded France’s oldest and most prestigious literary prize thanks to the stunning energy of his novel.”
The Guardian

“This book is written in flamboyant style. It’s a hymn to literature.”
Prix Goncourt Jury Citation

“The impressive ambition and stunning energy of Sarr’s novel carried all before it.”
Le Monde

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