The first novel to be translated from Wolof to English, Doomi Golo—The Hidden Notebooks is a masterful work that conveys the story of Nguirane Faye and his attempts to communicate with his grandson before he dies. With a narrative structure that beautifully imitates the movements of a musical piece, Diop relates Faye’s trauma of losing his only son, Assane Tall, which is compounded by his grandson Badou’s migration to an unknown destination. While Faye feels certain that his grandson will return one day, he also is convinced that he will no longer be alive by then. Faye spends his days sitting under a mango tree in the courtyard of his home, reminiscing and observing his surroundings. He speaks to Badou through his seven notebooks, six of which are revealed to the reader, while the seventh, the “Book of Secrets,” is highly confidential and reserved for Badou’s eyes only. In the absence of letters from Badou, the notebooks form the only possible means of communication between the two, carrying within them tunes and repetitions that give this novel its unusual shape: loose and meandering on the one hand, coherent and tightly interwoven on the other. Translated by Vera Wülfing-Leckie and El Hadji Moustapha Diop.
“One of the best writers working in Africa today, Diop has taken the daring step of writing a novel in Wolof, his native tongue. An old man writes a series of notebooks to explain the cockeyed history of his country to his grandson, but the grandson has left Senegal and may never read the notebooks. The result is an innovative, exuberant narrative where Senegalese folktales bang up against postmodern uncertainties, altering the form of the European novel. “
—Charles J. Sugnet, professor emeritus, University of Minnesota
- 2017 Three Percent Best Translated Book Award, Finalist
- 2016 World Literature Today’s Notable Translations