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Senegalese student famed for vanishing in France publishes new book

Senegalese student and novelist Diary Sow poses during a photo session in Paris on November 8, 2021   -  
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JOEL SAGET/AFP or licensors


Diary Sow's disappearance from France where she was attending high school at the beginning of the year had caused a stir in her native Senegal.

The 20-year-old known for her academic excellence showed up in Dakar days later.

In an interview promoting her new book, ''I'm Leaving'', Sow says she felt "imprisoned by the opinion of others". 

"I felt like I was imprisoned by the opinion of others, by the conception they have of the character they have built around me. I felt this especially after my return, when I realised that in fact I did not have the right to do what I had done. I wrote this book to settle a few scores, to free up speech, to get things moving on a theme that was close to my heart: voluntary disappearance. I think that if I hadn't chosen to leave, if I hadn't left, I wouldn't have written this novel, because otherwise it would have had no reason to exist," she said. 

At the time of her disappearance, Sow was studying at the prestigious Louis-Le-Grand school in the French capital. The authorities began a frantic search for her after she failed to show up for classes on January 4.

'I’m leaving' tells the story of Coura, a Frenchwoman of Senegalese origin who decides to escape her life in order to reclaim her story. 

She leaves Paris without telling anyone, then returns weeks later, changed forever. “Disappear, some dream of it. She did it, ”underlines Robert-Laffont, a major French publisher, who publishes the book, making the confusion between the real and the invented a crisp selling point. 

A short promotional video shows the author packing her suitcase, before slipping out into the night.

“My experience inspired me a lot” to give body to the main character, “my alter ego”, she explains to AFP, refusing, however, to recount her long runaway, a “strictly personal” moment. “I am not Coura and she is not me,” she insists.

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