Maryse Condé is the Grande Dame of Caribbean Literature. She was born in Guadeloupe in 1934 as the youngest of eight siblings. She taught Francophone Literature at Colombia University in New York, and lived there for many years. She has also lived in various West African countries, most notably in Mali, where she gained inspiration for her worldwide bestseller Segu, for which she was awarded the African Literature Prize and several other respected French awards. Condé was awarded the New Academy Prize (or “Alternative Nobel”) in Literature as well as the Cino Del Duca World Award for her oeuvre. She also received the Grand Cross National Order of Merit from President Emmanuel Macron in 2020. She conquered the hearts of many readers in English-language territories with her novels The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana and Waiting for the Waters to Rise, longlisted for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature in the US.
Photograph © Claire Garate