Boubacar Boris Diop was born in Dakar, Senegal, where he attended a French school. Even before he finished high school, he wrote an unpublished novel describing he experience of racism. He got a degree in Literature and Philosophy and began teaching elementary school. An anti-colonialist, he was politically active.
In 1981 he published his first novel, which won the Prix du Bureau Sénégalais du Droit d'Auteur. His second novel also won an award. His third novel was based on interviews with the survivors of the 1998 Tutsi genocide. He has been a guest writer in Mexico City's Casa Refugio.