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Past Participle

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A troubled Senegalese lawyer investigates the death of her brother, three decades ago in Dakar, at the hands of a British diplomat's wife.  

Dakar, Senegal, 1987: On a rainy night after a wild party, the British ambassador's wife, Vivienne Hughes, is involved in a car crash. Her vehicle fatally hits the motorbike of young Senegalese doctor, Aimé Tunkara. Pleading diplomatic immunity, Vivienne and her husband flee to England. 


Three decades later, Aimé’s little sister, Lily Tunkara, now a high-flying lawyer in Dakar, finds a photograph that compels her to investigate what really happened that rainy night. As Lily faces increasing hostility from the local community, she turns to Vivienne Hughes, the only remaining witness, but is either woman prepared for the truth to emerge?

Past Participle is the story of two women bound together by the faultlines of the past, a study of love and guilt, power and desire, retribution and forgiveness.

Longlisted for the Bath Novel Prize 2022

Praise for Past Participle


This novel is perfection. I am *that* obsessed with Past Participle that I want to tell everyone about it! Reminds me of John Le Carré’s The Constant Gardener, but at the same time, a unique, magnificently-written novel. You won’t regret reading this. Again, I love this novel, it's brilliant.

— Claire Strombeck, literary editor

I turned over the last page of Past Participle with that special feeling of regret to be leaving your world. Such an immersive, thoughtful, forgiving book. Loved it.

— James McConnachie, Sunday Times and The Author


'An original and truly gripping read. A love story and an exposé. It will be on someone's shortlist for sure.'
- Jane Teverson, author of Born Beautiful 

'Past Participle is a captivating story of murder and imperialist corruption, of friendship and motherhood and of the past haunting the present, told through the interlinking stories of two women. It recognises the nuances of power dynamics, personal desires and social and political realities in framing how people act and why. The novel offers a strong critique of western imperialism, attentive to the macro and micro applications of that, alongside a dynamic and moving story.'
- Kieran Devaney, author & literary editor


'Past Participle is a love story full of psychological suspense... exploring friendship, history, and what happens when good deeds lead to bad outcomes. Jane Labous has an eye for detail, beautifully creating the thick heat of Dakar alongside the cold seascapes of the Dorset coast. A sweeping story that pulls you in, Past Participle leaves you constantly wondering: what would I have done?' 

Anne Hamilton, author of The Almost Truth


Past Participle is available from Waterstones, WHSmith and Amazon, or directly from Afsana Press

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