A brutal education: At Night All Blood is Black, by David Diop, reviewed

Alfa Ndiaye, a Senegalese soldier fighting for France in the trenches of the Great War, is consumed by bloodlust, which you’d think might be an asset under the circumstances. But after watching the protracted, gruesome death of his friend and ‘more than brother’, Mademba, a switch is flicked in Alfa’s mind. He becomes, in effect, a sadistic serial killer, until war itself cannot provide sufficient cover for his extremity. David Diop’s powerful novel, not much more than novella length, is full of echoes and portents. Over the course of his self-justifying narrative, Alfa says ‘God’s truth’ so often that the notion is drained of meaning. Translated from the French, the