Memory and Memoir: Men’s Deepest Secrets

Original title: La plus secrète mémoire des hommes

Author: Mbougar Sarr, Mohamed

Publication Date:

August 2021



Original language and publisher

French | Editions Philippe Rey

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

World English (Other Press, in a pre-empt)
Italy (E/O, in a pre-empt)
Netherlands (offers received)
Germany (offer received)
Romania (offer received)
World Arabic (offer received)


Literary Fiction

Memory and Memoir: Men’s Deepest Secrets

Original title: La plus secrète mémoire des hommes

Author: Mbougar Sarr, Mohamed


“A world-book, which takes us to Paris, Dakar, Amsterdam and Buenos Aires, where we cross the apocalypses of the twentieth century as we meet Borges, Sábato and Gombrowicz.” —  Youness Bousenna, Télérama

“A great book, a jewel of know-how that enchants, transports you and pursues you. Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, remember this name, is the young author of this fascinating book and its architecture as perfect as it is exciting.” — M.P, L’Express

“To inaugurate this rentrée littéraire, no novel is better suited than La plus secrète mémoire des hommes by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr.” — Camille Laurens, Le Monde

An impressive coming-of-age novel and a gripping investigation into the life of a mysterious author. A prolific novel and a true ode to literature in the vein of Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives, written by one of the most prominent figures in contemporary literature.

In 2018, Diégane Latyr Faye, a young Senegalese writer, discovers a legendary book in Paris, published in 1938 and entitled Le labyrinthe de l’inhumain (The Maze of Inhumanity). No one knows what happened to the author, once referred to as the “Black Rimbaud”, after his book created a scandal. Diégane is fascinated and decides to look for the mysterious T.C. Elimane. On his path, he confronts the great tragedies of history such as colonialism and the holocaust. From Senegal to Argentina to France, will he get to the truth at the center of the maze?

Alongside his investigation, Diégane, becomes part of a group of young African writers in Paris. They check each other out, talk, drink, make love…a lot, and philosophize about the role of exile in artistic creation. He becomes particularly close to two women: the seductive Siga, who holds many secrets and the fleeting photojournalist Aïda…

La plus secrète mémoire des hommes continuously reinvents itself. It is an astonishing novel about choosing between living and writing, about the desire to go beyond the confrontation between Africa and the West. Above all, it is an ode to literature and its timeless qualities.

Praise for Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s previous works:

“Haunting philosophical questions demonstrate Sarr’s power, and his story succeeds in speaking to both the reader’s head and heart. This introduces a vital new voice to American readers.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Sarr pays moving tribute to the courage of everyday people with this examination of survival and sacrifice.” — Booklist

“Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s first novel is a master stroke.” — L’Humanité

“Reminiscent of novels by 19th century masters, Sarr’s novel is tense, gripping, terrific.” — Le Temps

“A raw but shockingly beautiful book. The author gives voice to the victims of totalitarianism in this emotionally engaging debut.” — Sololibri

Marketing Information

  • Winner of the Prix Transfuge 2021
  • Over 26,000 copies in print
  • Longlisted for the Prix Goncourt 2021, Prix Médicis, Prix Renaudot 2021, Prix Femina 2021, Prix Wepler-Fondation la Poste 2021, Prix littéraire Le Monde, Prix du Roman News 21
  • Shortlisted for the Prix Décembre 2021