Mohamedou Ould Salahi was born in Rosso, Mauritania, the ninth of twelve children of a camel herder. His family moved to the capital of Nouakchott when he was a child, where he excelled in school and earned a scholarship to study electrical engineering at Gerhard-Mercator University in Duisburg, Germany. In 2001, he was living and working in his home country of Mauritania when he was detained and renditioned to Jordan, beginning an ordeal that he would chronicle in his internationally bestselling Guantánamo Diary. The manuscript, which he wrote in his isolation cell in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, remained classified for almost eight years and was finally declassified, with substantial redactions, in 2013. It was first published in the United States and United Kingdom in January 2015 and has since been published in 25 languages.
After 15 years of detention, Mohamedou was released on October 17, 2016, to Mauritania. The following year he published a “restored edition” of Guantánamo Diary, filling in the U.S. government’s redactions, and in 2021, his first novel, The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga, is being published by Ohio University Press.