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Diaty Diallo

Artist, novelist
Summer 2024

  • Literature
  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • Miami
  • New Orleans
  • New York

My interest in traveling to several major U.S. cities primarily stems from the visible aspects of transformation, such as gentrification, which often conceal deeper philosophical connections and profound disparities, including the contrasting urban geometries of French and American metropolises.

I write poetry, songs, and fiction; I’m also a photographer and a performer. I studied visual arts and the production of cultural projects in public spaces, followed by a course in creative writing. After several years spent watching over works in museums and children in study halls, while roaming the streets of London in search of work or my next room at a youth hostel, I eventually ended up working for six years for socio-cultural and popular education associations.  

In 2022, I published my first novel, Deux secondes d’air qui brûle (“Two Seconds of Burning Air”), and wrote short pieces for magazines and online media, such as AOC, Dears, La Déferlante, Médiapart, and Manifesto XXI, or for new live readings or performances. 

Diaty Diallo is a novelist and artist. In 2022, her first novel, Deux secondes d’air qui brûle, was shortlisted for the Prix Médicis and the Prix du Livre Inter, among others.

I wrote a novel that draws ways to survive and handle a close one’s death collectively when that death is a consequence of state’s violences and it affects a whole community. 

Deux secondes d’air qui brûle carries different black musical backgrounds references like rap or techno to help characters transcending their sadness by gathering together and dancing their pain away. But I also made the choice of musical styles deeply rooted in north America and equally implanted in Europe, to emphasize that states violences are something both France and USA have in common as well as the possible reactions to these : to make counterculture growing as a way to resist and enhance our broken identities.  

The black diasporas have demonstrated since ages their power when it’s about to spread their cultural streams all over the world. 

During the promotion of the book, I did many readings in public and took these opportunities to try something different, hybrid, incorporating sounds and music mixed with words and singing, as if it were a sound map of the book. Now I feel that I could take this further. 

I have always wanted to move away from the conventional book, which often carries strong symbolic ties to French dominant culture and can be associated with manifestations of classism. Today, I am unequivocally certain that I will continue to write books. However, I also recognize the profound need to revisit my debut work, crafting a shorter yet more impactful version of the story that can be effectively conveyed on a stage. This new rendition aims to engage a different audience, one that may not typically participate in intellectual or literary circles. 

At the same time, I started to think of a possible second novel. At this stage, I only have random thoughts, many obsessions, and fragments of synopsis, but I know I want to keep writing about the impact of the urban spaces on the body and especially about feeling, enduring, the distance between everyday life locations, following the persistence of the living, plants and animals, working on the sounds and songs of the city, and music as a social experience. 


Most of the music I listen to, rap (trap, drill, jersey drill…), blues, folk, techno, etc. take their roots north America. But I’m aware I have many gaps to fill before having a more coherent view of what could be a cultural diasporic continuum between USA and France. 

My interest in traveling to several major U.S. cities primarily stems from the visible aspects of transformation, such as gentrification, which often conceal deeper philosophical connections and profound disparities, including the contrasting urban geometries of French and American metropolises. 

I will spend time in public spaces to observe what choreographies are happening, inventory the ghosts of the past, the shreds of memory personified by all the track of resistance in the urban landscape, to understand how different layers work together or not; eras, type of occupations, age, class, gender distribution, public policies decisions. 

I have one specific imaginary world for each city that I picked for the project and of course, it starts with the music : New Orleans with the birth of Jazz and Mardi Gras, New York with rap, no wave and musicals, Chicago with house and drill, Detroit with disco and techno, Atlanta and Miami with Dirty South, Baltimore with b-more club, etc. and a whole original soundtrack that goes with that itinerary. I want to listen to music where it is produced, streamed and played live, I want to dance on it.  

I have a need to examine reality and assess how it intersects with the narratives presented in fiction. I want to see if the actual landscape aligns with the stories I’ve heard: Is there a touch of Treme in New Orleans, shades of Spring Breakers in Miami, or echoes of She’s Gotta Have It in NYC? 

In partnership with

Maison internationale des écritures contemporaines d’Aix-en-Provence (MéCA)

The Maison des écritures contemporaines d’Aix-en-Provence (MéCA) is a place of creation, residency and multi-disciplinary programming, called to promote the arts of narration. Born from the movement of the new literary scenes, the MéCA is part of it in a singular way by taking the decision to unite literary writing with other artistic writings, whether they are sound, scenic, graphic or digital. The MéCA offers a place to work on stage with the aim of giving space and time to emerging and established authors and artists in a process of producing literary objects for the stage and new proposals that are part of the public space.


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