Guadeloupean author Maryse Conde on Friday was awarded the New Academy Prize in Literature. The award she won is an alternative award created to replace this year’s Nobel Literature Prize, which was postponed by the Swedish Academy over rape allegations that came to light as part of the #MeToo movement.
In a video message played at a ceremony in Stockholm, Conde said she was “very happy and proud” to win the award. “But please allow me to share it with my family, my friends and above all the people of Guadeloupe, who will be thrilled and touched seeing me receive this prize,” the 81-year-old said. “We are such a small country, only mentioned when there are hurricanes or earthquakes and things like that. Now we are so happy to be recognised for something else,” added the author.
In her work she describes the ravages of colonialism, and the post-colonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming, the New Academy said in awarding Conde the prize.
Here are some things you should know about Maryse Conde:
- Condé wrote her first novel at the age of 11. She is the author of around 20 works, some prominent ones are Heremakhonon, Segu, Crossing the Mangrove, Tales from the Heart, Who Slashed Celanire’s Throat? and The Story of the Cannibal Woman.
- In 2004 she retired from Columbia University as Professor Emerita of French. She had previously taught at several prestigious universities in the US and France: the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, the Sorbonne, The University of Virginia, and the University of Nanterre.
- Her works talk about her African descent and also captures racial, gender, and cultural issues.
- Conde has received several awards, including the Prix Liberatur (Germany) for Segu, the Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme for I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe for Desirada, the Prix Marguerite Yourcenar for Le Coeur À Rire et À Pleurer (1999, Tales from the Heart: True Stories from my Childhood), and Le Grand Prix du roman métis for En Attendant la Montée des Eaux (2010).
- In 2001 she was ordained Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la France and in 2004 she was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
Feature Image Credit: Jeune Afrique