Maryse Condé, was born as Maryse Boucolon at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, on February 11, 1937. In 1953, her parents sent her to study at Lycée Fénelon and Sorbonne in Paris, where she majored in English. In 1959, she married Mamadou Condé, a Guinean actor. After graduating, she taught in Guinea, Ghana and Senegal.
She is the author of numerous novels, including Heremakhonon, Segu, Crossing the Mangrove, Tales from the Heart, Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, and The Story of the Cannibal Woman.
In 1981, she divorced, and married Richard Philcox in 1982. Philox
is the English language translator of most of Maryse's novels. In addition to her writings, Condé had a distinguished academic career. In 2004 she retired from Columbia University as Professor Emerita of French. She had previously taught at the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, the Sorbonne, The University of Virginia, and the University of Nanterre.
Condé in this interview from June 2002. She speaks of her childhood, her passion for honesty, her compassion for women, her love of family and her respect for the craft of writing. She describes her experiences with racism in France and the US, and the controversy her books have caused.
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Atria (January 19, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
The critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the classic historical novel Segu, Maryse Condé has pieced together the life of her maternal grandmother to create a moving and profound novel.
Maryse Condé's personal journey of discovery and revelation becomes ours as we learn of Victoire, her white-skinned mestiza grandmother who worked as a cook for the Walbergs, a family of white Creoles, in the French Antilles.
Using her formidable skills as a storyteller, Condé describes her grandmother as having "Australian whiteness for the color of her skin...She jarred with my world of women in Italian straw bonnets and men necktied in three-piece linen suits, all of them a very black shade of black. She appeared to me doubly strange."
Victoire was spurred by Condé's desire to learn of her family history, resolving to begin her quest by researching the life of her grandmother. While uncovering the circumstances of Victoire's unique life story, Condé also comes to grips with a haunting question: How could her own mother, a black militant, have been raised in the Walberg's home, a household of whites?
Creating a work that takes readers into a time and place populated with unforgettable characters that inspire and amaze, Condé's blending of memoir and imagination, detective work and storytelling artistry, is a literary gem that readers won't soon forget.
Slashed Celanire's Throat?
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Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press (August 30, 2005)
Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
Winner of the 2005 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for fiction
On one hand, beautiful Celanire -- a woman mutilated at birth and left for dead -- appears today to be a saint; she is a tireless worker who has turned numerous neglected institutions into vibrant schools for motherless children. But she is also a woman apprehended by demons, as death and misfortune seem to follow in her wake. Traveling from Guadeloupe to West Africa to Peru, the mysterious, seductive, and disarming Celanire is driven to uncover the truth of her past at any cost and avenge the crimes committed against her.
With her characteristic blend of magical realism and fantasy, and inspired by a true story, Maryse Conde hauntingly imagines Celanire in an unforgettable novel -- a most dazzling addition to the deeply prolific and widely celebrated author's brilliant body of work.
Tituba, Black Witch of Salem
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Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Ballantine Edition edition (January 3, 1994)
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
At the age of seven, Tituba watched as her mother was hanged for daring to wound a plantation owner who tried to rape her. She was raised from then on by Mama Yaya, a gifted woman who shared with her the secrets of healing and magic. But it was Tituba's love of the slave John Indian that led her from safety into slavery, and the bitter, vengeful religion practiced by the good citizens of Salem, Massachusetts. Though protected by the spirits, Tituba could not escape the lies and accusations of that hysterical time.
As history and fantasy merge, Maryse Conde, acclaimed author of TREE OF LIFE and SEGU, creates the richly imagined life of a fascinating woman.
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Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Paperback: 493 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (September 1, 1996)
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
The year is 1797, and the kingdom of Segu is flourishing, fed by the wealth of its noblemen and the power of its warriors. The people of Segu, the Bambara, are guided by their griots and priests; their lives are ruled by the elements. But even their soothsayers can only hint at the changes to come, for the battle of the soul of Africa has begun. From the east comes a new religion, Islam, and from the West, the slave trade.
Segu follows the life of Dousika Traore, the king’s most trusted advisor, and his four sons, whose fates embody the forces tearing at the fabric of the nation. There is Tiekoro, who renounces his people’s religion and embraces Islam; Siga, who defends tradition, but becomes a merchant; Naba, who is kidnapped by slave traders; and Malobali, who becomes a mercenary and halfhearted Christian.
Based on actual events, Segu transports the reader to a fascinating time in history, capturing the earthy spirituality, religious fervor, and violent nature of a people and a growing nation trying to cope with jihads, national rivalries, racism, amid the vagaries of commerce.
More Book by Maryse Condé
Maryse Conde Biography