Fatou Diome is a Senegalese writer living in Strasbourg, France, internationally known for her bestselling first novel The Belly of the Atlantic (original title: La Ventre de l’Atlantique), published in France in 2003.
In 1994, when she was only 22, Diome got married and moved from Senegal with her husband to France where she experienced racism unlike ever before, even from her own parents-in-law. Although she eventually divorced her husband, Diome stayed in France, settling in Alsace, and pursued a degree in literature at the University of Strasbourg, financing her education with cleaning jobs on the side.
After completing her degree, she was a part-time lecturer at Marc Bloch University, Strasbourg from 2002 to 2003, and then at the Institute of Pedagogy of Karlsruhe in Germany. From September 2004 to November 2006. For a time, Diome also presented the cultural and literary show Nuit Blanche (Sleepless night) on the French television channel France 3 Alsace. She currently teaches Literature at the University of Strasbourg.
Diome published her first book, a collection of short stories entitled La Préférence Nationale, in 2001. Two years later La Ventre de l’Atlantique was released to widespread praise, winning her the Prix des Hémisphères Chantal Lapicque, the LiBeraturpreis and the young readers’ book prize of the Jury der jungen Leser. Containing partly autobiographical elements, the novel, Diome’s first, garnered international acclaim for the then-budding writer.
Her work explores immigrant life in France, including the difficulty of integrating fully into French society, and the relationship between France and Africa, specifically Senegal, interwoven with themes of self-determination, exile, and ostracism.