Celebrating the life and legacy of Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé left us: she disappeared in her sleep. In her books, the writer had addressed strong themes such as colonialism and slavery which had earned her the alternative Nobel Prize in 2018

The literary world mourns the loss of Maryse Condé, the celebrated Guadeloupean writer and Nobel Prize in Literature nominee, who has passed away at the age of 90. According to her husband, Richard Philcox, Condé died peacefully in her sleep at the hospital in Apt, in the south of France, as reported to the France Presse agency.

Born in Pointe-à-Pitre on February 11, 1934, Condé has left behind a significant literary legacy with around thirty novels, many of which have also been translated into Italian by publishers such as Giunti, E/O, Edizioni Lavoro, and La Tartaruga.

One of her most famous works, “Tituba, Black Witch of Salem,” tells the story of a black woman accused of witchcraft during the infamous Salem trials. This work, among others, tackled critical themes such as colonialism and slavery, shedding light on the devastation of these systems and the chaos of post-colonialism with precise and incisive language.

In 2018, Condé received the Alternative Nobel Prize at a time when the Swedish Academy decided to postpone the awarding of the Prize due to a controversy related to the #MeToo movement. This accolade highlighted the importance of her works, which have helped bring to the forefront often forgotten or overlooked stories, such as those from Guadeloupe. Despite being frequently mentioned, she never received the more prestigious Prize.

A life of teaching and impact

Condé spent part of her life teaching in various African countries, demonstrating her ability to address complex issues related to black identity and colonial history. Her Segu saga, which deals with the decline of the Bambara Empire in Mali, has been particularly acclaimed, showcasing the depth of her research and narrative mastery.

A Sorbonne graduate, Condé lived in various African countries before moving to the United States, where she taught at prestigious institutions like Berkeley, Harvard, and Columbia University. In 2020, she was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Emmanuel Macron, recognizing her contributions to literature and culture.

Her literary legacy, enriched by the numerous translations of her books into various languages, will continue to inspire and provoke thought on critical themes related to history and identity. Her passing is a loss to the global literary community, but her lasting impact will live on through her immortal works.

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