Sunday, October 19, 2014

Amazon's Book Reviews: Caribbean Authors — Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé (born February 11, 1937) is a Guadeloupean, French-language author of historical fiction, best known for her novel Segu (1984–1985). Born as Maryse Boucolon at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, she was the youngest of eight children. After having graduated from high school, she was sent to 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. In 1981, she divorced, but the following year married Richard Philcox, English language translator of most of her 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's novels explore racial, gender and cultural issues in a variety of historical eras and locales, including the Salem witch trials in I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem (1992) and the 19th-century Bambara Empire of Mali in Segu (1987). Her novels trace the relationships between African peoples and the diaspora, especially the Caribbean. Read more:

This is a review for Crossing the Mangrove by Maryse Condé - The reader must not readily assume (quite a mistake) that this is a conventional detective mystery, even one with Caribbean cadences. Far from being so. Rather, this is an exhilarating celebration of the intricate balancing of the complexities of cultural diversity in the region. Without equal, Conde is both brilliant and powerful in presenting an honest portrait of Caribbean society, most particularly the richness of the Guadeloupean society. The murdered stranger, Francis Sancher, is symbolic of the long history of the Caribbean itself: the influential, intrusive "outsider" that serves as catalyst for change. But be careful; Sancher is not the central character here. If one reads all of Conde's novels together (an experience well worth the time), one observes a fascinating personal evolution in setting, form, artistry, and content: from Africa, the United States and the anglophone Antilles, then finally to the francophone zone. This geographical movement parallels precisely the author's emotional/psychological journey back to her native Guadeloupe. Conde is the classic literary maroon, so central, in my opinion, to the Caribbean literary tradition: while promoting independence for others, she simultaneously claims it for herself. She, by the way, is a longtime supporter of independence from France of the entire francophone territories. As a writer, Conde definitely heads the list of the region's most stellar and talented. All her novels are MUST READ works. Read more:

This is a review for Segu by Maryse Condé - "Segu" is a very good historical novel, one of the few that are set in Africa's historical past (circa 1800-1860). The novel's protagonists are an aristocratic family in the empire of Segu (now part of Mali) swept up in the historical currents of the time: Islam, Christianity, European imperialism, and the Atlantic Slave trade. As with "Roots", the story is told from the African perspective, which is refreshing and much needed. The novel is well written and filled with abundant historical detail. There are many deatils here that a student might research in a library, for example: the different lifestyles of the Fulani and Bambara and relations between them; the "Brazilians" in Africa, former slaves from South America that managed to return to Africa; the socio-economic status of Africans of mixed-(European and African) ancestry. Read more:

This is a review for I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé - Condé engages the reader with a story that is multilayered and captivating with voluntary and involuntary enslavement, passion, rebellion, and the interconnectedness of the spiritual and natural world. She paints a vivid picture of slavery in Barbados through the eyes of Abena and her daughter, the main character, Tituba. Tituba is not born a slave but enters into this bondage for want of a man. It is at this point that her problems arise. Willingly transferring oneself from a world of freedom to a world of bondage creates a mountain of issues insurmountable by mere human strength. Although Tituba's role in the Salem Witch Trials serves as one of the main focuses of the novel, the experiences that lead to the accusations are what capture the reader's attention. Condé also weaves the thread of a Trinitarian model of the three woman family with Tituba, Abena, and Mama Yaya. She is guided and warned by their spirits but chooses to forge her own path. If you are ever entranced by a gentleman, think twice before you leave the bush. You'll have to read the book to get that one. Read more:

Maryse Conde Speaks from the Heart of Guadeloupe video by fullduck

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