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Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé was born in Guadeloupe in 1937 as the youngest of eight siblings. She earned her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at ParisSorbonne University and went on to have a distinguished academic career, receiving the title of Professor Emerita of French at Columbia University in New York, where she taught and lived 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 2018 New Academy Prize (or “Alternative Nobel”) in Literature as well as the 2021 Prix Mondial Cino del Duca for her oeuvre. She also received the Grand-Croix de l’Ordre national du Mérite from President Emmanuel Macron in 2020.

from Waiting for the Waters to Rise

Maryse Condé’s Waiting for the Waters to Rise begins in her native Guadeloupe but is ultimately a novel that centers on statelessness. The three characters at the novel’s heart—Babakar, Movar, and Fouad from Mali, Haiti, and Palestine respectively—are all migrants driven from their homelands. Condé is a master storyteller capable of traversing multiple countries with their own histories of colonialism and political violence so that we come to know each character more intimately and why the friendship they forge is so vital to their survival.

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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2021

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