Fatou Diome (born 1968 in Niodior) is a French-Seneglese writer known for her best-selling novel The Belly of the Atlantic, which was published in 2001. Her work explores immigrant life in France, and the relationship between France and Africa. Fatou Diome currently lives in Strasbourg, France.

Fatou Diome (2015)
Fatou Diome (2015)
Niodior, Senegal
OccupationNovelist, short story writer
GenreLiterary fiction



Fatou Diome was born in Niodior on the island of the same name in the Sine-Saloum Delta. She was raised by her grandmother and went to school and became passionate about French literature. At the age of 13 she left Niodior and continued her education in M'Bour. Later she moved to Dakar to study at the university, supporting herself by working as a housekeeper.

In 1990 she married a Frenchman and moved to France. Rejected by her traditional Serer family and by his family, she divorced two years later. In 1994 Diome moved to Strasbourg to study at the University of Strasbourg. She is currently[when?] working on her Ph.D. in French language and literature. The title of her Ph.D. thesis is Le Voyage, les échanges et la formation dans l'œuvre littéraire et cinématographique de Ousmane Sembène (Voyage, Exchanges, and Education in the Literary and Cinematographic Work of Ousmane Sembène).

From 2002 to 2003, she was a part-time lecturer at Marc Bloch University, Strasbourg, and at the Institute of Pedagogy of Karlsruhe (Germany).[1] From September 2004 to November 2006, she presented the cultural and literary show Nuit Blanche (Sleepless night) on the French television channel France 3 Alsace.[1]


Fatou Diome published a collection of short stories, La Préférence nationale, in 2001. Her first novel, The Belly of the Atlantic (French: Le Ventre de l'Atlantique) became a bestseller in France and is published in English by Serpent's Tail. Her first novel was partly autobiographical and is about Salie, a Senegalese immigrant living in Strasbourg, and her younger brother Madicke, who stayed behind in Senegal. After years of struggle Salie has finally arrived and settled in France. Her younger brother dreams of following her to France and to become a successful football player. The Belly of the Atlantic was translated into English, German and Spanish. Her second novel, Kétala, was published in 2006 in France. In her work Fatou Diome explores France and Senegal, and the relationship between the two countries.

Her style is influenced by the traditional oral literature of Africa. Her language is authentic and vivid and traces a portrait of the difficulties of integrating in France as an immigrant, mixed with nostalgia and memories of a childhood in Senegal.


  • La Préférence nationale (short stories). Paris/Dakar: Présence africaine, March 16, 2001. ISBN 978-2-7087-0722-1
  • Le Ventre de l'Atlantique (novel). Paris: Anne Carrière, August 20, 2003. ISBN 978-2-84337-238-4.
    • Translated as The Belly of the Atlantic. London: Serpent's Tail, September 4, 2006. ISBN 978-1-85242-903-4
  • Kétala (novel). Paris: Flammarion, March 10, 2006. ISBN 978-2-08-068993-1
  • Inassouvies, nos vies [Our unfulfilled lives] (novel). Paris: Flammarion, 2008. ISBN 978-2-0812-1353-1.
  • Le vieil homme sur la barque (autobiographical). Paris: naïve, 2010. (46p.). ISBN 978-2-35021-213-5.
  • Celles qui attendent (novel). Paris: Flammarion, 2010. ISBN 978-2-0812-4563-1.


External linksEdit