At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop
WHEN HUMANITY FAILS
In war you are moulded into a machine, blindly following orders. Brutality & savagery can be celebrated as heroism in one moment, in the next considered madness or uncivilised. In war your enemies lose thier personhood, reduced to a target to be eviscerated.
This internationally acclaimed, multiple award winning book, written originally in French, is a modern classic that in under 150 pages packs an all mighty punch. Because it was so short, with quick chapters and lyrical prose, I found the heaviness was easier to get through.
A deeply introspective, visceral novel, it delves into the complexities of war, friendship, and the devastating effects of trauma. Set against the backdrop of World War I, Diop’s mesmerizing prose takes readers on an emotional journey through the mind of Alfa Ndiaye, a Senegalese soldier fighting for France.
The novel explores the psychological turmoil experienced by Alfa, as he grapples with the brutalities of war and the loss of his childhood friend, Mademba. Through Alfa’s fragmented and often unreliable narrative, Diop delves into the depths of the human psyche, offering a profound exploration of guilt, grief, and the blurred lines between reality and madness. My interpretation is that we are witnessing a mind pushed to the brink, spiralling until unrecognisable.
Diop’s writing is evocative, vividly capturing the horrors of war and the complexities of Alfa’s internal struggles. He highlights the racial dynamics of war, through thr experiences of African soldiers fighting in a war that is not their own. Masterfully weaving in themes of identity and cultural displacement, the author challenges readers to reflect on the injustices faced by marginalized communities during times of conflict.
I think this story transcends the context, applicable to any unimaginable trauma that people are expected to walk away from, resuming daily life.