The Most Secret Memory of Men

Longlist, National Book Awards 2023 for Translated Literature

ISBN 9781635423273
Other Press
Author photo of Mohamed Mbougar Sarr
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar in 1990. He studied literature and philosophy at the 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. More about this author >

Translator photo of Lara Vergnaud. (No photo credit provided)
Lara Vergnaud

Lara Vergnaud has translated over a dozen books from the French; her work has been featured in The Paris Review, Literary Hub, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. More about this author >

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Translated from the French

From the publisher:

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?