Filed in the following archives
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The key to this mysterious woman’s identity is Adanson’s unpublished memoir of the years he spent in Senegal, concealed in a secret compartment in a chest of drawers.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.
In Beyond the Door of No Return, David Diop embeds a heartrending story of love and loss alongside the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. This epistolary novel draws deftly from the archives, refashioning the journal of a French botanist and the subject of Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s Portrait of Madeleine. Lushly written and exquisitely translated by Sam Taylor, Beyond the Door of No Return reflects the consequential reach of the traffic of humans, from France to Senegal to Guadeloupe.