You are here

The Leopard Boy

Daniel Picouly. Translated by Jeanne Garane. Afterword by Jeanne M. Garane

BUY Cloth · 304 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813937892 · $75.00 · Jan 2016
BUY Paper · 304 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813937908 · $29.50 · Jan 2016
BUY Ebook · 304 pp. · ISBN 9780813937915 · $29.50 · Jan 2016

October 15, 1793: the eve of Marie-Antoinette’s execution. The Reign of Terror has descended upon revolutionary France, and thousands are beheaded daily under the guillotine. Edmond Coffin and Jonathan Gravedigger, two former soldiers now employed in disposing of the dead, are hired to search the Parisian neighborhood of Haarlem for a mysterious mixed-race "leopard boy," whose nickname derives from his mottled black-and-white skin. Some would like to see the elusive leopard boy dead, while others wish to save him. Why so much interest in this child? He is rumored to be the son of Marie-Antoinette and a man of color--the Chevalier de Saint-George, perhaps, or possibly Zamor, the slave of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV.

This wildly imaginative and culturally resonant tale by Daniel Picouly audaciously places black and mixed-race characters--including King Mac, creator of the first hamburger, who hands out figures of Voltaire and Rousseau with his happy meals, and the megalomaniac Black Delorme, creator of a slavery theme park--at the forefront of its Revolution-era story. Winner of the Prix Renaudot, one of France’s most prestigious literary awards, this book envisions a "Black France" two hundred years before the term came to describe a nation transformed through its postcolonial immigrant population.

CARAF Books: Caribbean and African Literature Translated from French


Daniel Picouly is an award-winning author who explores contemporary issues through historical fiction. In The Leopard Boy, the slave trade and its legacies link Africa, Europe, and the Americas during the French Revolution. Jeanne Garane has done an excellent job of interpreting Picouly's words and worlds.

Chantal Kalisa, University of Nebraska, author of Violence in Francophone African and Caribbean Women’s Literature

Jeanne Garane's masterful English translation brings for the first time, to a larger readership, Daniel Picouly's award-winning novel. She elegantly and accurately renders Picouly's entertaining, ingeniously layered, historical and "rocambolesque" novel that weaves Chester Himes, Alexandre Dumas, Afro-French violinist Chevalier de Saint-George, Marie-Antoinette among others, with an enigmatic mixed-raced "leopard boy" during the French Revolution. The Leopard Child interrogates the meaning of skin color in France’s history, and constitutes a major and insightful addition to the well-established body of francophone literatures.

Anny Dominique Curtius, University of Iowa

Daniel Picouly’s The Leopard Boy combines a snappy hard-boiled style driven by dialogue with Marie-Antoinette’s stately interior monologues to create a unique work that somehow recalls both Chester Himes and Alexandre Dumas. A good read!

Abdourahman A. Waberi, George Washington University, author of Passage of Tears

Interested in this topic?
Stay updated with our newsletters:

Related Books