Beyond the Door of No Return

Longlist, National Book Awards 2023 for Translated Literature

ISBN 9780374606770
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers
Translator photo of Sam Taylor. (Photo credit: Kathy Taylor)
Sam Taylor

Sam Taylor is an award-winning literary translator and novelist. His four novels have been published in ten languages, and he has translated more than 60 books from the French, including Laurent Binet’s HHhH, Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny, and Marcel Proust’s The Seventy-Five Folios. More about this author >

Author photo of David Diop. (Photo credit: Eric Traversie)
David Diop

David Diop was born in Paris and was raised in Senegal. He is a professor of 18th-century literature at the University of Pau. More about this author >

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Translated from the French

From the publisher:

Paris, 1806. The renowned botanist Michel Adanson lies on his deathbed, the masterwork to which he dedicated his life still incomplete. As he expires, the last word to escape his lips is a woman’s name: Maram.

The key to this mysterious woman’s identity is Adanson’s unpublished memoir of the years he spent in Senegal, concealed in a secret compartment in a chest of drawers. Therein lies a story as fantastical as it is Maram, it turns out, is none other than the fabled revenant. A young woman of noble birth from the kingdom of Waalo, Maram was sold into slavery but managed to escape from the Island of Gorée—a major embarkation point of the transatlantic slave trade—to a small village hidden in the forest. While on a research expedition in West Africa as a young man, Adanson hears the story of the revenant and becomes obsessed with finding her. Accompanied by his guide, he ventures deep into the Senegalese bush on a journey that reveals not only the savagery of the French colonial occupation but also the unlikely transports of the human heart.